It's common to most every religious tradition - some ceremony or service where you dedicate or commit a new child to God. In some Christian traditions, it takes the form of baptism. Others have a brief baby dedication. The last baby we dedicated was our youngest child, and that was more than a few years ago. I held the little guy in my hands, but times have changed. I don't pick him up anymore; I'd hurt myself. He picks me up - literally. He'll greet me at the airport, and pick me up off the ground and spin me around. That's my baby. Yes, a lot of things have changed, but one thing never has.
All three of our children grew up, but the transaction that took place that day we dedicated each of them to God is one thing that is still being repeated today. We cannot physically hold them in our hands anymore, but we can, and we must, keep giving them over to the One who gave them to us. The problem is that, all too often, we actually try to keep them in our hands, don't we?
There is no more beautiful "release your child" model in the entire Bible than Hannah; the woman who prayed fervently for years that God would bless her infertility with a child. God answered that prayer by giving her a boy named Samuel; who was destined to become one of the great leaders of Israel. In obedience to God, Hannah brought her young son to the temple to be trained for spiritual leadership. In part of her prayer in 1 Samuel 1:27-28, she says of this child for whom she had waited so long, "So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord."
Do you know how often we moms and dads need to tell God that? Every day for the rest of your life, no matter how old or young our children are. No matter how close to God or far from God they are. But be careful, we're talking here about releasing our son or daughter to God; which means helping them become the person God created them to be, not trying to shape them into the person we want them to be. It means talking to God far more about your child than talking to your child about God, as important as that is.
For some of us who tend to be controllers, we have to make sure we're not trying to "play God" ourselves in our child's life. Parents who truly place their son or daughter in God's hands can lay off the nagging, the manipulating, the meddling, and the criticizing. What we try to control we often end up crushing. Our job is to say to God each new day, "You gave me this child, Lord. Again, for this new day, I'm giving her; I'm giving him, back to You. I'm available for anything You want me to do to join You in what You're doing in their life - whether You ask me to speak up, or remain silent, to apologize, to forgive, to sacrifice, or even change."
A surrendered parent is a parent at peace - a parent who knows that this treasure God has entrusted to them has this day been placed again in God's all-powerful hands. A God who knows the plans He has for that boy, for that girl - plans for good and not for evil, to give them a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). No matter how big your little ones get, remember whose they really are.
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