The toughest part of bringing our children to the foot of the cross, praying and petitioning the Lord to show mercy to them and to add them to the number, is the watching and waiting for Him to reveal His hand of mercy, whether it will fall upon our offspring when they are young or when they are older — if at all.
Parents, I know the task seems unending, and I have gone through the seasons of questioning whether there is any good ground to till. I have prayed many hours for clear and strong (and clearer and stronger) indication of regeneration in my children. But let me encourage you that in the calling you have to be servants to your children, shepherds of your flock, there is, as Charles Spurgeon says, a "most beneficial work to ourselves. It exercises our humility and helps to keep us lowly and meek. It also trains our patience—let those who doubt this, try it! For even young Christians exercise the patience of those who teach them. If you want big-souled, large-hearted Christian men or women—look for them among those who are much engaged among the young, bearing with their follies, and sympathizing with their weaknesses for Jesus' sake!"
And then the great Preacher explains,
This feeding is humble, lowly, unostentatious work. Do you know the name of any shepherd? I have known the names of one or two shepherds—but I never heard anybody speak of them as great men. Their names are not in the papers, nor are they before the public eye. Shepherds are generally quiet, unobtrusive people. When you look at the shepherd, you would not see any difference between him and the ploughman. The shepherd plods on uncomplainingly through the winter, and in the early spring he has no rest night or day because the lambs are needing him. This he does year after year, and yet he will never be made a Knight, nor even be exalted to a Noble, albeit he may have done far more useful work than those who are floated into fame. Just so in the case of many a faithful teacher of young children; you hear but little about him—yet he is doing grand work for which future ages will call him blessed. His Master knows all about him, and we shall hear of him in that great and final day; but perhaps not until then.
Feeding the lambs is careful work, too—for lambs cannot be fed on anything you please, especially Christ's lambs. You can soon half-poison young believers with bad teaching. Christ's lambs are all too apt to eat herbs which are injurious—we need to be cautious where we lead them. If men are to take heed what they hear—how much more should we take heed what we teach. It is careful work—the feeding of each lamb separately, and the teaching of each child by itself the truth which it is best able to receive.
Moreover, this is continuous work. "Feed My lambs," is not for a season—but for all time. Lambs could not live if the shepherd only fed them once a week. They would die between Sundays; therefore good teachers of the young look after them all the days of the week as they have opportunity, and they are careful to feed their souls with prayer and holy example when they are not teaching them by word of mouth. The shepherding of lambs is daily, hourly work. When is a shepherd's work over? How many hours a day does he labor? He will tell you that in lambing-time, he is never done. He sleeps just when he is able, taking much less than forty winks, and then rousing himself for action. It is so with those who feed Christ's lambs; they rest not until God saves and sanctifies their dear ones.
It is laborious work, too. At the least, he who does not labor at it will have a terrible account to render. Do you think a minister's life is an easy one? I tell you that he who makes it so—will find it hard enough when he comes to the day of judgment! Nothing so exhausts a man who is called to it—as the care of souls. Just so it is in measure, with all who teach—they cannot do good without spending themselves.
But once it is clear that regneration has taken place, the hard work is not over. The saved children growing up in our homes are the disciples the Lord has given us. You who are parents think you still need to find out what your calling is, your spiritual gift? Look no further than the moppets -- or the young masters and misses -- sitting around your dinner table, particularly if they have come to saving faith.
I’ve asked this here before: How do we talk to children about sin? It begins with a word-specific discussion about the Lamb of God who was led to the altar to be slaughtered — because sin demands a payment and that payment is death. That’s the Propitiation Equation where the essential truth that Sin Brings Death is illustrated through Old and New Testament shadows and is revealed and explained in eloquent sermons by New Testament writers, which ought to be read over and over at family devotions or during bedtime routines so that familiarity with the essential elements of the faith grows and expands to establish a foundation for faith.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of that doctrine! I love to hear it every day. As the hymn goes,
I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
But as we know, the story doesn't end there. Once we are saved from the penalty of sin, we discover that the power of sin meets its match in — in fact, is crushed under — the power of the Holy Spirit, who is supernaturally enabling us, day by day, to fight against temptation. We can teach our children to make use of the means of grace to fight sin, and we can model it for them -- most importantly demonstrating for them how to rely upon the indwelling Spirit, especially when the struggles seem to practically smother our very strength and will.
Christ Himself instructs us to ask for grace and protection in deaing with temptation and sin (Matthew 6:13), and then shows us how to ask for forgiveness for sins committed while we are still in this practical working out of our salvation (Matthew 6:12, 14). You're not perfect -- believe me, they know that. And seeing your confidence in the promise of forgiveness and gratitude for the mercies that are new every morning provides the Spirit the opportunity to draw that same confidence out of them.
Finally, we can encourage our regenerated offspring that a day has been promised and is coming when we who are called by God and are named as His children will be set free from the presence of sin. The risen Savior will come again for His children. The hymn’s refrain exults:
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
Today, we struggle against the flesh because of the ability to sin that still resides in us in this pre-glorified state. But then, when that Day of Glory comes, we will not be able to sin because He conquered sin and death for eternity. Just think what a relief it is for your children to hear that they won't have to live in this tent of misery and iniquity forever! We think since they're young they don't think that way, but sometimes, that's exactly what they need to hear, especially as the years go by and the battles against temptation seem endless and laden with hopelessness. There will be a day when the presence of sin will be eradicated. No residue, no evidence. None. Only and all the glory and magnitude of the Lord forever and forever.
So, now that your children are saved, what do you do?
Savor the grand story, and remind yourself and your children of the promises it contains each and every day. Cultivate anticipation and joy. Lead them through the mercies available to you and them -- forgiveness of sin, adoption by God, confidence in Jesus's righteousness, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the living Word in the words of Scripture, protection and governance by His decrees. Demonstrate how the doctrines affect you, your life, your walk, your relationships, your calling.
And welcome them as brothers and sisters in the Lord!
Laura Miller aka mrsdkmiller
Looking for a list of articles published around the web?
Looking for posts written in response to 5-Minute Friday prompts? Click here:
Her March Isn't Over
Across the River
When God Pries My Fingers Off My Children
Life's Defining Moments
To the Christian Wife Who Berated Her Husband in Front of My Daughter
Zeal and Grace in France
An Unconventional Love Story
Seeing What's in Front of Our Eyes
Remembering Why I Called You Hannah
Love Your Sister.
Because He Came Home
Go Valiantly! A Prayer for New Homeschooling Moms
© lauraenglandmiller, #thereyougothinkingagain, Laura E Miller
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