“God,” I whispered, afraid of uttering aloud the thoughts in my heart. “I wish my son would never have started reading the Bible.”
There. I said it. And I meant it—even though the admission brought a fresh wave of tears. I mean what Christian mom doesn’t want her son to read the Bible?? What Bible believing, Bible teaching, Bible loving mom wishes—at least weekly—that her teenage son would have never started reading the Bible through in a year?
As a young boy, my son would declare his love and devotion to Jesus by writing John 3:16 in sidewalk chalk on our driveway; by scribbling “Jesus Loves You” on napkins at restaurants; and by hammering scraps of wood together into crosses, painting them with left over spray paint, and scattering them across our yard—resulting in more of a creepy pet cemetery look than the “Jesus loves you and wants to give you life” look he was hoping for, but still…he was expressing love for the Savior he loved so much.
From the moment he could speak, my son talked about Jesus and God and the “Ho-wee Spear-it.” He once asked me (at the age of 4) “if satan said he was saw-ree to God for sinnin’ would God forgive him?” And then just a few months later, after listening to the story of Jonah from his little rhyme time Bible, he declared, “Jonah made a bad choice so God put him in time-out in dat whale’s big ol’ belly so he could think about makin’ a good-er choice.”
And on many occasions he would meet random strangers and say he was “God’s boy” or “Jesus’ bestest friend.”
His early faith—his strength of faith—caused me to think that his faith was a sealed deal. That God had imparted into his little heart a rock-solid faith that would never be shaken.
I was so blissfully naive!!
Oh, if only we could live out our 4 year old devotion to the Lord all of our days. If only we could remain Jesus’ boys and girls.
And yet, He made us to grow. In fact, He put within us a yearning for wisdom, discernment, knowledge and understanding—things which can only come from questioning, wrestling, doubting and deciding.
God wants us to make our faith our own.
He doesn’t want us to ride the coattails of our parent’s faith, or our teacher’s faith, or our mentor’s faith. No, He wants us to own our faith.
And that all sounds well and good—until…you watch your child begin his own faith journey. Until you see your son shake off your faith and begin to question his own. Until you watch as your little boy trades his sidewalk chalk for doubts; his napkin evangelism for questions, and his haphazard crosses for objections.
Yet even in that you hold onto hope that the little boy faith is still in there—just morphing into big boy faith.
Your son trades his rhyme time Bible for the real deal and then asks one night at dinner, “How can you think God is so loving when he ordered the annihilation of entire nations?”
His questions and objections catch you off-guard. You feel completely unprepared for his criticism of the Word you hold so dear.
Since my teenager decided to read the Bible through in a year, I find myself wishing God would have sought the help of an editor. Or maybe consulted a publicist. Or ran a few Old Testament books past a focus group.
As I watch my son wrestle over who God is and whether or not He is good and trustworthy, all I want to do is put his little Rhyme Time Bible back in his hands.
“He’s mine. Trust me,” I hear the words in my heart, but I shake my head against them. For my role is to lead my children to faith in Jesus. This is my job as his parent. It’s on me if he walks away. Right?
“All I ask you to do is introduce him to me. Now, it’s my turn. Trust me.”
“But God,” I cry, “What if he doesn’t choose you?” the words cause pain as they escape my lips. All I want—all I really want from this life—is to know that my children are walking with the Lord. What if….I can’t finish the thought.
Trust Me with your son.
Trust Me with his heart.
Trust Me…I am starting a new thing.
Trust Me…I am working all things together for his good.
Trust Me…I know the plans I have for him.
Trust Me…Neither height, nor depth can separate him from my love.
Trust Me enough to let go. Let me have his heart. It is not your job to win his heart, that is MY job.
I’m not gonna lie…this has been the hardest part of parenting for me. Realizing that I can’t control my kids’ hearts and thoughts. Allowing them to make their own choices, understanding that those choices could lead them places I never wanted them to go. BUT, at my core I believe that God is good. He is trustworthy and He loves my kids more than I do. I trust that God still speaks through His Word—even in our confusion and doubts. And I rejoice that my teenage son is reading that word…even if he’s wrestling with it.
And so…I will trust and pray. Believe and encourage. And I will stay close, but let go enough to let God take over.
But between you and me, I’m holding onto that sidewalk chalk and Rhyme Time Bible…just in case!