My husband, John, and I corral four kids, ages ten to fifteen. In case you’re doing the math, no, there are no twins, but a couple of them felt like twins. I homeschooled my kids for eight years—five and a half of those years in Uganda, carting them to the refugee center, playing Scripture memory songs in the minivan (#thatmom) as I dodged potholes the size of a small child.
Today, back in the States, John and I try to choose heartfelt conversations with the kids when we’d rather go to bed and let our eyes glaze over on Netflix. And sometimes I hope that all this intentionality is giving my kids a shed of tools to cultivate God in their lives.
But God alone makes any seed sprout.
Author and pastor Dave Harvey writes, “One of the less detected strains of legalism in the church today is the false hope of ‘deterministic parenting.’ This unspoken but deeply felt dogma assumes the parents’ faithfulness determines the spiritual health of their kids...Such legalism smuggles in a confidence that God rewards faithful parents with obedient, converted kids and does so proportionally to what we deserve.”
We’re not entitled to God waking our kids’ hearts. You may read someday that one of my kids is a prodigal. Some of God’s children certainly are. My kids make their own choices—one of them may either be president someday or lead all the other felons in prison—and God alone holds sovereign rule over their lives. The spectacular goal of my kids loving God with their lives can’t become my idol. I must love Him whether they do or not. Though I possess no power to change my kids’ hearts, I long to be faithful—approved and unashamed (2 Timothy 2:15)—with the gift of my kids. His kids.
Catch Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:6: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” As parents, we could echo this sentiment and say, My spouse and I planted. All those camp counselors and crazy youth group leaders and grandparents and babysitters watered. But God gave the growth.