RAISING (GOD’S) CHILDREN
Many years ago, a friend and I held a Life in the Spirit Seminar for our children, the eldest being 8 and the youngest 2. We sat each day for a week around the kitchen table and told them about Jesus, how much He loved them and all about the Holy Spirit. Each experienced Jesus in such a beautiful and special way and all received the gift of tongues and prophecy. It was one of those moments I can never forget. And yet, this was only the beginning.
The Journey Begins
At a time, when I was relatively new to walking with the Lord myself, it was humbling to experience my own children being filled with the Holy Spirit. However I have to admit that this amazing journey was taken one step at a time with me learning how to walk in the Holy Spirit first and then teaching them to do the same. The outcome being that they experienced a relationship with the Lord very early in their lives. But like everyone else, they had to go on their own journey with Him and experience the Holy Spirit at deeper levels. They had to experience their own personal conversion. As they grew older, they had to branch out and find their own footing with the Lord.
Proverbs 22: 6 says “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray”.
I tried as much as I could to do this, by showing them how to grow in their relationship with Jesus and how to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His leading. With some struggles I learnt to leave them in the Lord’s hands and let them find their own path with Him. They are both still with the Lord and both are very different in their walks. I knew that I had to allow them to be who they are in Him. I had to resist the temptation not to make mini ME’s.
The hardest thing to do as a mother is to let go and let God. Our children are one of the most precious gifts God has given us and from the moment of conception, to carrying them in our wombs, we are willing to lay down our lives for them. We want what is best for them and one of those hopes is that they will know the Lord all the days of their lives. So to let go and put them into God’s hands is the best and only trustworthy choice we have.
I have many friends who unlike me, had children who grew up not walking with the Lord; they chose to go out into the world and seemingly walked away from God. I often joined in prayer with one friend in particular who knew this pain. I saw her persevere in prayer, learning to place her trust in God and not losing hope that her children would return to their loving God. Sure enough, one by one, each of her children came to know the Lord and are now on fire for Him.
Love Must Triumph
Nagging doesn’t work. We can be tempted to keep going over and over the same thing, such as: Why aren’t you coming to Mass? Why are you not taking notice of God? We often do this out of frustration and worry. But we need to come back to the heart of the Gospel, which is Love. Our main role is to Love. Our children already know how we feel about the Lord, and that it’s important to go to Mass and to pray. Generally they know the correct choices that need to be made to draw closer to God and the choices that will take them into the world. They know all of this deep down in their hearts because they have seen us trying to live this out.
But their path is not our path. We are all uniquely made, and each one is different. The challenge is to not try and mould our children into the way we walk with the Lord.
Our role is to help them find out who they are in Him, to discover their gifting and purpose and to nurture and direct them in the way He is leading them.
Love must triumph, and Love doesn’t mean we have to be Ok with the choices they make in their lives. Love means I am here, the door is always open. As we read in Scripture, love is patient, love is kind, love can convict but does not condemn. Love brings healing. Love is the foundation. The prodigal son stepped back over the threshold of his father’s property after squandering all His inheritance and what did the father do? As soon as he saw his son coming, he ran to him (Luke 15:11-32). That’s Love.
I remember this one time when one of my children wasn’t making some very wise choices in their life. As a mother, my natural inclination was to intervene, but I felt the Lord say to me “I am watching them closely and I will only allow them to go only as far as I want them to go”. I knew He was asking me to trust Him and put them in His Hands and that His love for them was greater than mine. The Lord did bring them through and I saw him turn the situation around and turn it to good. We can trust God with our children no matter what is happening in their lives.
Dear moms, don’t give up, continue to pray for your children and entrust them into the loving hands of the Maker of heaven and earth. They are His before they are ours. His eyes are always upon them and they are never too far gone from Him. God has got them just as He has us. Rest in that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Marie Gatenby serves on the National and State Catholic Charismatic committees in Australia and is National coordinator for Intercession for the charismatic renewal in Australia. She has published a book on intercession and is an international speaker, equipping God’s people on how to be courageous passionate witnesses for Jesus Christ.