This weekend marked the passage of another year in my parenting journey and the turning of yet another page. My oldest child turned 14 and suddenly I realized that my sweet little goober has become more like a man and less like a boy. I say this with a twinge of sadness but also with a rush of excitement for what our future holds. Then I realize this is the perfect time to reflect and share the single most important thing that I've ever done for him and my daughter.
As a child there was no religion in my home, however, I was blessed with one set of extremely faithful grandparents. They radiated the love and kindness of Christ in every corner of their lives. Fast forward many years, I met my future husband at the age of nineteen, married by twenty one and had my son by twenty two. When he was born, I was still a child in so many ways but I knew one thing. I wanted to raise him in the home that was modeled by my grandparents and the first step toward that goal was finding a church. I asked my husband for permission to raise him in the church and he allowed it but promised never to join us. That was the beginning of my journey as a parent in an unequally yoked marriage. During those early years, I learned that simply going to church wasn't enough. I needed to learn what it meant to be made a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17). In that moment I made the best parenting decision of my life, I dedicated all that I knew of myself to all that I knew of Christ. I know that sounds lofty but let me share the practicalities of that choice.
I began by asking God to provide us with a church-home then I committed to regular attendance and involvement outside of the worship hour. I know that's a really hard one for us but I cannot overemphasize the importance of gathering with a body of believers. It will be hard and at times you will feel like an odd duck but do not let the enemy keep you in a place of isolation. That's his favorite weapon to use against this fellowship of Christ-followers. Ask God to knock down any walls that stand in your way, ask him to soften your spouse’s heart to the idea and know that you are supported by the prayers of this Sumite community. Persevere and make church attendance a priority for you and your children. (Hebrews 10:25)
Another small change that had a gigantic impact on my progression was the decision to listen to only Christian music. I’ve learned that the Lord clearly speaks through worship artists. The lyrics often confirm messages that I’ve heard from other sources and aide in the healing of some of my deepest wounds. My pastor once said that the root of the word music is “muse” meaning to think or ponder. That is one purpose of worship music, to point our hearts and minds toward God and keep us focused on Jesus Christ.
Even more important than church attendance or choice of music is your own inner relationship with the life giving King, Jesus Christ. Perhaps begin by setting your alarm fifteen minutes earlier than you normally would. Wake up before your family and settle down with your Bible and a journal. Begin each morning with Him and allow the power of the Spirit to fill your soul. It’s also helpful to seek out a few online devotionals and begin to fill your email inbox with his word. Saturate your heart with the living words of God and he will never abandon you. John 15:4
I hope you see the point to all of this, we are called to make Christ the focus and center of our minds. I know it seems counter-intuitive for us as Sumite parents. The enemy wants us to believe that it's impossible, that we are too different, that our marriages are too hard, that we can't possibly be strong enough to raise authentic followers of Jesus Christ. I'm telling you now that the enemy is a liar and we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:31-39) If you stand up today and tell God that you want to devote your entire being to him then HIS Spirit will begin the work in your heart, taking you from lesson to lesson, transforming you into the image of Christ. In time, your husband and family will be transformed by the power of Spirit and no force on earth can stop that progression. This sold out dedication to Jesus Christ has been the most important aspect of my journey as a parent. I am a flawed and broken sinner just like every other human, so I cannot do this without the indwelling of the Spirit of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I think that God is raising a generation of believers who contain a faith, passion and obedience like no other generation. He has chosen our generation of fathers and mothers to parent these children. We are called to focus on Jesus Christ and model the same faith that Lois and Eunice modeled for Timothy. (2 Timothy 1:5) Will you choose to focus on Jesus Christ then allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through you as your faith impacts the next generation?