I tried something new this summer. A family-wide, sync’ed up Bible reading plan through the book of Romans. It all started off grand. The kids had their darling new Kids Read Truth books, I had my iPhone app, and we all had some pretty solid intentions. We’d read Scripture. We’d talk about it around the dinner table. We’d strum harps and sing Kumbaya.
And we’d fail epically. Or, at least so it would seem.
I mean, we read it. Most of us at least, though all at different paces and with varying degrees of whining. I’m pretty sure we rehashed Scripture around the dinner table a grand total of thrice. And the harp sadly never made its debut.
As we approached mid-summer, I began to feel frustration creep in. Once again, my lofty expectations did not align with our summertime reality. Once again, parenting looked a lot more like a hodgepodge of messy moments than shining examples of family discipleship. And, once again, doing A + B wasn’t exactly equaling happy, compliant, Bible-loving children. No, A + B was simply driving me to an 8pm bedtime, overwhelmed and defeated. Romans and all of our well-written, beautifully-designed Bible reading plans could SHOVE IT thankyouverymuch.
Then there was that day several months ago. It was just another day when Carson approached me at bedtime in a completely nonchalant way. “Hey mom, I’m ready to get baptized.”
Pause for a second. For a solid year now, we’ve been having conversations with Carson about his faith in Jesus. And, for a solid year now, he had remained fairly adamant that he didn’t want to get baptized. He didn’t want to stand up in front of people, and he didn’t want people looking at him. It felt awkward and it felt scary and he just wasn’t ready.
So we backed off. We’d stand by him, encourage him, pray for him… but this was something that he and his logical, analytical little brain needed to hash out. Just between him and God.
So, I pressed a bit. “Dude, that’s awesome!” I said. “But, I’m just curious. How’d you get to this point? How’d you come to this decision?”
“Romans,” he responded, shrugging his shoulders. “I just read Romans.”
Funny how that works. We, as parents, spin our wheels, workworkworking to see our kids to follow Jesus. We use all the latest tools and read the best, most gospel-centered parenting books, desperate to be all that our kids need us to be as parents. And yet, at the end of the day, we’re reminded that what our kids really need from us is a signpost pointing back to Jesus. Back to Scripture. We quickly learn that we can spin those wheels all the livelong day, but the power to change their hearts lies in the Spirit alone.
So, Carson. Thanks for this reminder. This reminder that I can buy all the right books and say all of the right (or wrong) things, but I’m still not in control of you guys. And, you know what? That’s actually a really beautiful and freeing (and sometimes really really terrifying) thing. For BOTH of us.
Buddy, we are so very pumped for your decision to get baptized last weekend. This felt scary and risky to you, and you did it. Scared. Which stands in pretty close resemblance to what this crazy adventure of following Jesus is all about. But here’s the really awesome thing: we can do hard things scared because we know His presence goes with us, before us, and behind us. We can do hard things scared because we have His very word to guide us along the sometimes rocky way.
You know this. Dude, you saw this with your own eyeballs and experienced this with your own life this summer, but let me just remind you once again that His Word is truth. This world may lead you astray. Heck, I MAY EVEN LEAD YOU ASTRAY SOMETIMES. (I know it’s exceedingly hard to believe, but I’m not perfect.) Scripture though? It can be trusted. HE can be trusted.
We’ve got your back, buddy. Our big, messy church is chock-full of people who love you and who have got your back. And that God of the Bible who you met in Romans this summer? He’s totally got your back. So get after it. We love you so much.