I’ve spent the last seven years working hard to be the best mom I can be. My husband and I are doing everything we think is right for our kids…trying so hard to give them the best chance at choosing God…following heart-first (and head-first) after what we believe God has called us to as a family.
And you know what? It isn’t working.
My boys drive me to the brink of insanity at least once a day. Sometimes they hate school. Some days they hate me. My husband and I bicker and fight over stupid stuff at least once a month. Some months we struggle financially. Others we struggle to keep the house clean. At least five mornings a week I wake up with a messy kitchen because I was just too tired to clean it up the night before. My bedroom is usually a mess, even though I long for it to be a haven for my husband and I. My boys fight and act out, and today my oldest pointed a gun at my face when I told him no.
It wasn’t a real gun…
But it made me crumble into a pile of snotty mess crying out to the Lord, “Why God? Why do I deserve this? I TRY SO HARD to do things the right way. I’ve given up so much, done everything I can possibly do to give them what they need. I’ve loved them so hard, prayed so well, tried so hard...”
And if I’m honest, I’m hurt Lord…surprised at your lack of response in my time of need. Don’t you know that I write about prayer? Write about raising kids? How can I write about prayer when You don’t even answer mine??
Ugly, I know.
The #1 question I get as the co-founder of a community for mothers of boys is really not all that profound. Wanna know what it is?
“How do I raise boys to love the Lord.”
My answer? You can’t.
There is no parenting book on the market today that can give you this checklist. There’s no equation for producing a godly son or daughter. There’s no gaurantee that your hard work and sacrifice will pay off.
Because salvation doesn’t come by the work of our hands.
There’s nothing we can do to earn our own salvation, and there’s nothing we can do to earn our children’s salvation. No amount of good parenting, wise decisions, prayer, sacrifice or challenges overcome will bring salvation to our homes. Because salvation is not built on works. Not even good works. Not even awesome works.
We are mistaken if we believe that our good parenting moves God in any way to act on our behalf. And while it’s not wrong of us to long for the salvation of our homes, it IS wrong for us to believe that God brings salvation in response to our behavior.
Everything God does, He does for Himself.
“Thus says the Lord God: ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of My holy Name.’” (Ezekiel 36:22)
We are part of HIS story, not the other way around. And I don’t know why. I don’t know why my pain or yours sometimes brings God more glory than our happiness. I don’t understand why God doesn’t answer my desperate prayers in a way that eases my suffering in this life. But God is not bound to give me abundance by some code of excellence on my part. And what works for your family may not come close to working for mine. Because God created our hearts and He knows the best way to reach them.
Doesn’t seem fair does it?
But what is fairness in the eyes of God? Are the circumstances of my life really not fair? Do I really not get what I deserve when I work so hard?
Oh, but no. No, I do NOT get what I deserve. My life is NOT fair in any way. It’s really not fair that I have two healthy children. It’s not fair that I wake up warm each morning and have plenty to eat. It’s not fair that my car works and my home keeps me safe. It’s not fair that I have access to the medicines I need to control my asthma or that I can vote and worship freely with no threat of persecution. I don’t deserve a decent paycheck or socks without holes. I don’t deserve the love of a husband or new clothes.
Want fair? Want what we deserve? Fair is eternal punishment for our sins. Hell is what we deserve.
But He gave us Jesus.
The kindness of God in giving me His son led me to repentance…salvation. I wasn’t won to Christ by promises of what He could do on my behalf. I didn’t choose to believe because He promised me wealth, success or the salvation of my children. I followed Him because I was a sinner in need of grace. I followed Him because I was found guilty in a court of heavenly law. And when my sins were called in, He stepped in to take my punishment.
So yeah…sometimes I feel hopeless. Sometimes I get angry at God when He doesn’t do what I know He can do on my behalf. And then I remember the magnitude of what He has already done for me. I remember that all things ultimately bring Him glory, and whatever He does do on my behalf is to make Himself known in all the land.
I don’t have to understand it. I just have to look to the Cross to believe it.
How will we respond when all the right things don’t work?
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