When I was a little girl, my Daddy would say my prayers at night, and sometimes as he was bending down to kiss me goodnight, he would say, "I love you with my whole heart."
It got to be a little disconcerting to hear this as I stumbled my way through childhood theology and church. "How can he say that? Doesn't he know he's supposed to love God with his whole heart?"
The other day I was rocking my sweet little girl (she's two), and out tumbled the words. "Good night, sweetie pie. I love you with my whole heart!"
I had to laugh a little in my head as I realized I knew what my Daddy had meant!
Now, neither of us were making any theological statements with our cutesy pillow talk. I'm glad my Dad loves us so much. And I love my sweet little Ellie.
But lately I've been stewing over this issue.
Stewing because as my children grow, each day that passes where we have health and safety and are huddled together under our safe little roof seems almost miraculous, Improbable. Like we are getting away with something, narrowly escaping from something. I look around and am full of questions. What kind of world will be waiting for them? Will they be one of the many to suffer from childhood diseases, addiction, rebellion? Will they always love Jesus?
And inside, the fierce love takes on a different shape. It becomes fearful, clingy, desperate, demanding.
I silently plead with God. Lord, I love you, Lord, but not that. I couldn't handle that.
How do you love your kids *just enough*? How do you accept the gifts and hard-to-get blessings they are, and yet hold them with an open hand, borrowing them?
This is very much a work-in-progress for me, but I have some thoughts.
- "Worry" and "concern" for our children sound very benign, but it's important to identify the Sin of Idolatry when it is happening. Idolatry says to God, Something Else is more important than you. I know better than you. I do not trust you, and I want what I want. Our God knows our hearts, and He is kind and forgiving. But we must call sin, sin, even when it has to do with worry over our precious little ones.
- And second, something I learned from a Tim Keller sermon. If we make our children idols in our life, or their safety our idol, we will be disappointed. God is the only thing in the universe that if we give our hearts to Him, they will be safe. If you give your heart to anything else in this world, it will enslave you. He will free you.
Lord, you are strong and loving. Your plans are perfect. Eternity is forever. Help us to love you Most. Thank you for the gifts that are our children.