On Our Inability to Cause the Salvation of Our Children

One of the effects of having children is that they reveal in us all kinds of new weakness and dependence.

If you thought you were powerful, or smart, or charming, or wise, or rich, or holy, or educated, or skilled, they reveal in you that all of these things fail to determine that your child at the end, knows the LORD.

What we find is, they have their own minds, make their own decisions, are their own person, with their own ideas, and soon figure out that they also are the image of God.

Sooner or later they will find us wrong about something and that’s the end of the free ride of perceived infallibility and unquestioning trust.
With that, we find ourselves in great dependence upon God, calling out to him for their holiness, their development, their wisdom, their resistance to sin, and even their eternal salvation.

In short, our children cause us to get serious in matters of religion. We might err by a small-minded passivity in our own estate, but not in theirs. Not when we know of a looming cosmic peril in regard to our infant offspring. If not for ourselves, then surely for them, we would know the mind of the God who made us. We might have made it through life ignoring him altogether if he had not imposed upon us this urgent necessity of nature, the salvation of our children.

When we have done, truly, all that we can do, it is never enough. Not enough to ensure that thing that as children of God we in our hearts desire most; that they know the Lord and are saved by him. We can not by our most noble efforts or greatest expression of our earthly powers create in them this one little seed of faith.

And in this, we see ourselves bankrupt of power over the destinies of men or angels, so slight is our repose that we are wholly lost to Jesus and cry out to him, “Save our children, Lord! That we might be lost but our children be saved!”
But still, after everything we can do, they are in his hands entirely. Somehow, we have to make that enough, though we should not be thwarted without making him know our mind. We should never afford him rest in this.

We bother our God, we wrestle and annoy, we cry out day and night for his Spirit to act, not because we deserve his attentions but because we know that he alone can save.

And we learn to pray like Christians, through this suffering of indeterminacy and struggle, because we have found an honesty in ourselves that we have no power to make things bend to our human will.

We admit frailty, and anguish and the sin of pride. We admit exhaustion and defeat.

And yet we live in hope. Because with him there is always hope.

So we rest in the light of the providence of God, and in the end this rest is sweet, because we know that he is good in all that he does in the Heaven above and in the Earth beneath.


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