When it comes to parenting, we love formulas that work. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a woman who does not feel passionately about whatever method or approach to parenting she takes. For example,
- natural birth vs. use of drugs in labour
- breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding
- co-sleeping vs. sleeping in a crib
- schedule vs. feeding on demand
- staying at home vs. putting your kids in daycare
- homeschooling vs. public schooling
The list could go on. Just hearing these options evokes strong emotions in us. We tend to feel somewhat threatened if someone disagrees with us on one of these points. Sometimes we elevate these decisions to the place of almost life or death importance.
By all means, I think it’s wise to research these things, ask questions, read books and make a decision that works best for your family, but we need to hold all of these things with a loose hand. When it comes to mothering, they are not the main thing.
When it comes to spiritual matters we tend to look for tried and true methods as well. If fact, it’s tempting for parents to become so fearful that we look for a magic formula. One that is guaranteed to produce mature well-balanced lovers of Jesus. In fact, few things expose the unbelief lurking in our hearts like motherhood does. We are tempted to disbelieve God when he tells us that the gospel is the power of God to salvation.
Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,”
Think about it. Do you really believe that the gospel is attractive? More attractive than anything thing else in the world? Do you believe that the gospel is powerful? That the Holy Spirit can arrest your child’s heart with the beauty of it, and make it so much more attractive to them than any other thing the world has to offer?
We need to be diligent in teaching our children the gospel, but we also need to be a living example of what a gospel transformed life looks like. This does not mean that we pretend we are perfect and don’t make mistakes. It means that we don’t fear the world, the flesh and the devil. It means that living under a loving and sovereign God brings our hearts peace and contentment. It means that we trust in the power of the gospel. We need to let our children see that we take joy in this God, that we find him beautiful, satisfying and more attractive than anything the world has to offer.
Children are smart. They know if you really believe what you are saying.
They can tell if we are living in fear or if we are trusting in the loving and sovereign hand of God.
There are moments of utter joy and contentment in motherhood and there are also moments when you feel like your are drowning. And you just don’t know what the right thing to do is. It is so tempting in these ‘drowning’ moments to search high and low for the magic formula. But we can’t forget that we have a powerful gospel, a God who loves us intimately, and a Saviour who always lives to make intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:25...he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.) Jesus is praying for us right now.
To quote the 19th century Scottish preacher, Robert Murray McCheyne,
"If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me."
My encouragement to mothers is to guard your hearts against trusting in formulas and methods. There is only One who can save. And He is the One we need to put our trust in.