I can't tell you the formula--
...because there isn't one.
I can't tell you the end of her story--
...because it's not the end of her story yet.
This Sunday I was in the nursery. Holding a sweet, little 10 month old. I nearly rocked us both to sleep in one of those cozy recliners.
Usually the nursery is packed, but for some reason we had only one baby. While the rest of the crew went home, I stayed to enjoy time with a fellow nursery worker.
She told me the story of her husband's death and how she met Jesus a few years later. About her older son and his family. And how her son just met Jesus. And about her other son whose heart is not soft yet, still resistant and hard. And about how--
It's not the end of his story.
Today I spoke with a mentor-friend-mom who is often my go-to-spot when I need to process. She spent the weekend with her older children, away at college. We talked about mommy-mess-ups and all the things I already know I could've-would've-should've done differently... better. And I rejoiced with her as she shared about children flown away-- who are choosing God on their own. How she can look back now and see that then--
It was not the end of their stories.
Last night I spoke with a close friend, who has children-not-choosing-Him. The heartache and pain of seeing those so-loved-hearts turn away from the One most loved. A daddy whose heart is hurting. But my friend has also seen God's redemption in a prodigal-child-redeemed. And there's so much hope in knowing--
It was not the end of her story.
So when this mama's heart begins to question-- Are we doing it right-- this parenting journey? Do they really know Him? Will Truth take hold? When I fail in their sight and I feel I am drawing a line through my faith?
I come back to what I do know. What I can tell you-- and what I can tell myself:
I want to give God my best effort, using wisdom and biblical guidance. I want to cling to Him for strength, aware of my own weakness. I want to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow where He's leading. But parenting is not a formula. And God is the changer of hearts.
I want to practice consistent training and teach them of His ways. I want to pray for them by name and plead with Him to reach them. I want to live a faith authentic, that permeates every corner.
But when the mirror causes discouragement, I will claim 1 John 1:9, And pray in my failures, they will see His grace abound. Because parenting is not a formula. And God is still changing my heart.
Because this is not the end of my story-- He still has much work to do. This is not the end of their stories-- I will trust Him to see it through.
So thankful for these hopes offered...
God does soften hearts. God can use our messes. God will hear our prayers when we cry out for our children. And it is God who will complete the work that He has started in us, and in the lives of our children.
Oh please Lord-- I pray specifically that this will be true for our family and for all those whose hearts cry out with me...
Nathan Clarkson (son of Sally Clarkson) is currently in the process of producing and raising funds for a film he wrote as a modern retelling of the Prodigal Son, entitled Confessions of a Prodigal Son. He is making the film in hopes of the film being a light in a dark world and reaching out to a generation of lost prodigals who need to hear the redemptive message inside of Jesus' story. To support and find out more about this project please visit his page.