I fell asleep a little earlier than usual last night. After a long and stressful day at work, I was beat. I said bedtime prayers individually with each of my daughters, and then I fell asleep before my head even settled on the pillow. A couple of hours later I woke suddenly, and keeping quiet I gazed upon my eleven year old preparing for bed. I watched in a sleepy joy while she read from a kid’s devotional book I had bought for her, and then while she proceeded to read from her Bible. I fell back asleep, contentment carrying me to dreamland.
My husband and I recently had a conversation about the amazing plan God must have for one of our children. How else could we explain the course our lives had taken?! We both carried pasts that were the whispers in church circles. An addict and alcoholic having a baby?! But God’s Grace had won. I tried to commit suicide by hanging as a child, but the poorly constructed noose didn’t work. My husband had a horrific car wreck as a young man, unrestrained, that left him without front teeth, but somehow no other injuries. When he awoke in the wreckage, he had been misplaced from the crushed-in driver’s seat, to the less impacted passenger side. And these are just a couple of our miraculous survival stories. Our past problems caused us to live individual, high-risk lifestyles, but in His mercy we were protected from our own stupidity.
As a teenager, new to the faith, I had known Ben was going to be my husband. I wasn’t very confident yet in my ability to hear God’s voice, but I never doubted he was the one. The problems and roadblocks of the world would separate us. For ten years, even! But somehow what God meant to place together, no man could keep apart. In my thirties, I finally married the man I knew at nineteen God had for me.
I could drone on and on how I believe my current path was meant to be, but I’ll spare you any further details. The point is, I have seen the hand of God in my life time and time again. So has my spouse. We consider each of our children a gift from God, and we have no doubt that the Lord has wonderful plans for their lives.
My husband used to own his own business, and he even built rockets once upon a time. But during this season, he is a homemaker. He homeschools our children and does about a billion other important tasks at home, while I serve in the role of primary and sole breadwinner. Albeit untraditional, this works wonderfully for our family. I think some men might tend to feel unfulfilled in their role as a stay-at-home dad. Not simply because society has deemed it a woman’s place over the years, but because, let’s face it; full-time parenting is hard! I’ve been in his position, and it’s crazy, hectic homeschooling multiple young ones. There’s one thing that he’s done that makes it fit him so much better than it did me, though. He understands his calling.
One day, a couple of years ago, my husband commented, “God told me today that what I’m doing is important.”
As simple as that. The encouragement of the Holy Spirit gave my man peace and purpose. We knew that financially we were doing what made sense, but budget balancing won’t fill your heart with purpose. The Spirit drives my spouse to parent well, and his determination and commitment are seen in the fruit of our babies.
It’s easy to see parenting as a chore. It’s work! It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love. It’s moments of ridiculous frustration mixed with moments of surpassing joy. It’s a love/hate relationship that you’d never let go. It’s the thing you need a break from, but also the thing you miss the second it’s gone. It’s a journey of perseverance, a practice in patience, and somehow humbling to how little we know. What we tend to forget, is that it’s also a great task for the Kingdom of God. As parents, we hold in our hands the ability to mend, but also to break. We have to be intentional to keep the damage to a minimum, and passionate to cultivate a loving environment of acceptance and success. We love our children as Jesus loved us; not for what we receive in return. The greatest gift we can give our babies is the heart of Jesus. This unconditional love that carries the fruits of the Spirit. Thankfully, perfection isn’t required, just the ability to show them the perfection that exists in Jesus, and that is there for their taking within them, as His perfect love resides there. This is the calling.
My husband takes seriously his calling, and it’s something I remind myself of often also. I mentioned in the beginning my girl reading her Bible and seeking God’s truth. This is something we taught! I don’t say that in a prideful way, for I know it’s only the true work of the Holy Spirit that keeps her doing it when the lights go down and she doesn’t know her parents are watching. That’s what truly gave my heart joy. She was able to experience the peace that comes from the Lord. We set up the practice, and we modeled the behavior, and the rest God took and ran with.
Children can be taught anything. They can be modeled hate. Abusive marriages often arise from watching abusive parents. Racism is engrained, and a false doctrine of religious works can be given precedent over the grace of God. You can even “scare the hell” out of your children by fire and brimstone, if you so choose, but when the lights go out at night, it’s the peace of abiding in Him that will persevere. That’s the calling, and it’s not an insignificant one.
It’s no secret that people have taken notice of the state of our world lately. I can hardly spend a few minutes on social media before seeing the hopelessness that persists because of the current, social climate. All I can think lately is, it’s up to me. Unless Jesus comes soon, the future is my children. It’s your children. The Bible tells a parable of ten virgins who had to keep their lamps lit as they waited on the bridegroom. Half let their oil run out and their light diminish. When the bridegroom came, only those who had remained prepared were rewarded. We are the ten ladies. The coming of Jesus is our groom. We don’t know exactly when He’ll return. It might not be in our lifetime. Does that mean our light goes out when we die? No! We keep our light burning through the oil of our children. The light of Jesus shines to future generations through the preparation we make as parents. The hope of the future lives in the loving light they carry to their own children. When He comes, no matter when, I want my lamp to still be burning for His return. That is the calling. It’s one we all share.