I used to think my success as a mother was wrapped up in how well I could distance my kids from the world out there. But now I think it’s about how I show them Who wins in the end.
My kids are still little. They can’t even reach a cup without climbing on the counter first. There are entire categories of life that they aren’t even aware of yet. I love this stage. There’s a simplicity here. Sometimes touchy subject matter comes up, and sometimes their young minds put me to the test. But the norm these days is someone building a fort or asking why we have dust in our noses.
I know it won’t be long though. It won’t be long before we’re discussing gender-neutral bathrooms or sex trafficking or why that pastor had to resign. It won’t be long before they comprehend the horror of senseless killings and unmitigated hate.
Because the only place for us to live is IN the world. I cannot hide it from kids. And I don’t want to teach them to fear it.
The fear of the LORD, not the fear of the world, is the beginning of wisdom.
Sometimes there’s a sheltered, microcosmic world we want for our children—a world that cannot exist, an illusion from the beginning. It’s a world without struggle or tension. It’s a world without temptation. It’s a world without sorrow, conflict, or darkness. In essence, it’s a world without a sin problem.
What kind of gospel is necessary to that world? What an exaggerated payment the cross was if it was meant to save a world like that.
I like to think of worldliness as something elsewhere. But the Bible says the things of the world are the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life. Have you ever envied anyone? Do you ever get a little self-righteous? Have you ever lost your temper?
The hard truth is that the world “out there” also shows up in our homes. My kids are on the front row of my life! They see it when I sin. So I need to show them HOW I fight the good fight and keep the faith. I need to admit I’m in a race.
As believers, we still have a sin problem. But you know what else we have? The Holy Spirit! That’s the difference between us and the world. THAT IS THE CRITICAL DIFFERENCE.
There are days I give my kids a wobbly demonstration of the Christian faith. Sometimes I worry that I’m “ruining my testimony,” as they say. But, oh the grace! It never lets go.
Because my testimony is not hinged entirely on my own goodness. My testimony is Jesus himself.
It’s His sanctifying work within me.
The Jesus I want my kids to know is the Jesus I know and need personally, not hypothetically.
My prayer is that if my children watch me find grace—the grace I know the world needs, too—then maybe they will embrace that same grace better when they are old enough to crave it.
Because what happens when one day a child faces a struggle that’s bigger than he is and scarier than anything he’s known up to that point? What happens when parents have been suggesting that the things out there in the world are never the struggle of a REAL Christian? What happens when those struggles are now trapped in his own mind? And what if mom and dad rarely admit their own struggles? Why should this child admit his own?
Who will this child turn to?
He needs a wise place to turn. He needs to know what grace looks like. Otherwise he may simply hide his struggles or edit himself around his parents. He may worry how mom and dad will react when they learn what’s “out there” is now a struggle for their child. He operates out of fear because they do, too.
The world is dark indeed. In fact, the darkness is getting more blatant and more astonishing. But one day the same temptations out there in the world may touch our children on a personal level. Maybe it will be their very own issue. Maybe it will be something that touches one of their friends or another family member. Maybe it will just be a question that is pressing on their minds and they are desperate for a place to talk.
My prayer is this:
Lord, may our dialogue about the world be laced with compassion toward the sinners. As we point out the world’s blindness, may we be humbled by the Light we were given. Lord, keep us standing together in that Light because a city on a hill cannot be hidden. And may we reach out to the world with heavy truth in one hand and redeeming love in the other. May they see the depth of our faithfulness, instead of the grip of our fearfulness. And may our kids grow up knowing the ground is level at the cross.
If we are living in constant fear of the world and how it may affect our children, they may miss the great message of the Gospel. They may think the big, powerful stuff is out there in the world while the small and benign stuff is in the glory of God. But that’s backwards. God is the one deserving of our awe and our trembling. He overcame death AND its sting. Victory is already won. And Victory wins in the end.
This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
the battle is not done.
Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and heav’n be one.
-Maltbie D. Babcock
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