When preparing for a major life move, many thoughts come to mind. Thinking about your kids is a given! When we signed on for this adventure with Youth For Christ Military in Europe, a division of Campus Life, we did so with our commitment to the Lord, and our love for students and families, guiding us. Our kids were definitely part of that dream, but every day we see many obstacles they are forced to deal with as well.
In this article, Samantha Connors shares how she needs to sacrifice her dreams for what she wanted for her kids’ lives, and she echoes our own thoughts. Growing up, Rebeca and I had an experience or two that shaped who we are. Whether painful or joyful, we were shaped by what we lived, and in some cases those experiences became a hardwired expectation or hope in us for the kinds of lives our own kids would lead – even if unwittingly! As parents, sometimes we want our kids to live the lives we had (or wish we'd had) rather than the lives God has for them. In these three questions, Connors asks exactly what we have asked over and over again:
Why is it that we trust God with our own lives, but it’s so much harder to trust that he has plans to cherish and bless our kids? What would happen if we stopped thinking about how our obedience could harm our children and dreamt about how God could use our obedience to grow our kids into the brave, obedient, Holy Spirit-sensitive adults we hope they will become. If God’s plan is good enough for me, when will I start believing it’s good enough for the precious little lives he’s entrusted to me?
In short, parents need to lead the charge in sacrificing the dreams we have for our kids so they can passionately pursue the plan God has for them. As a father, I want the best for my kids and I constantly struggle with whether or not I am doing right by them. God doesn't struggle. He is a heavenly Father who always does right, always acts righteously, and always knows what is best for us. I'm an earthly father who... doesn't, well, any of those "always's." Make sense? Am I being too tough? Or too soft? Am I teaching and leading too much when I could teach and lead more effectively just by being present with them? Would this-or-that crush their childlike spirit (which I don't want) or drive a childish foolishness from them (which I do want)? Am I raising them to be entitled snowflakes or hard and uncaring blowhards?
Okay, that last one was tongue-in-cheek.
This morning we were looking into how we could get the kids' tablets replaced, as they are still under warranty and both have an issue or two. Since we were letting them use them for a short time, and were chatting online with Zama in Customer Service about warranty options, and trying to organize how we would get the pads from Romania back to the States to arrange for their replacement, we had to get the pads from the kids a couple times to get the information she needed to process their warranty. We knew that doing this was necessary and also that the kids would guard what little time they get on the pads like a she-bear robbed of her cubs. It makes me think of the difference between what God knew He was doing for salvation by grace through faith for millions of people, and what Abraham knew He was doing in asking him to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac.
Our parental concern was to have pads for the kids that work well and don't glitch...
– they just wanted to play right then.
We want to make sure they have the best pads, new and working properly...
– they wanted to play then, and felt cheated of that.
They wanted more time on the pads because "she got more than me" but...
– we knew something better was just up ahead.
The same goes with God leading us. His concern is for our lives to work well, without glitches...
– we so often choose the passing pleasures of sin over abundant living.
He offers salvation, new life, and purpose through Christ that doesn't change with struggle...
– we want life without struggle, even if there's hell to pay, and feel cheated when it's hard.
We want the blessings others have and think it's not fair when we don't have them but...
– He knows what He is working in and through us that we can't yet see clearly.
Sacrificing some "wants" for what we believe the Lord is leading us to isn't new. It's never easy, but it's expected. But the sacrifices our kids are having to make alongside us are harder to take. We want the best for them, so is this sacrifice or...
Blessing? Is God building a character, experience, and greater testimony in them than what we imagine? Does God possibly love our kids more than we do? Hebrews 12:11-13 shows us the importance of discipline to those who are in Christ. It's training. It's strengthening. It's even healing from what you've faced in the past. Are we disciplining our spirits to desire the things of God more than the things we want for ourselves and our kids? Sometimes it feels like it's not worth it, and we just want to take a break from the hardship. But that doesn't mean you stop training, you stop persevering through hardship; remember, discipline isn't necessary when there's no struggle. Keep fighting.
I keep reminding myself that this time is making us stronger. As we continue to serve here in Romania, we are both living where God has brought us and being prepared for whatever is up ahead. We are passionately committed to doing whatever God has for us each and every day, and that includes raising children who watch us daily. Will we faithfully love the Lord and His people with joy, or let the pain of sacrifice steal that joy and distort our focus?
I pray it's the first.
– I pray they love Jesus.
– I pray they serve Him in whatever they long to do with their lives.
– I pray they encourage others to serve the Lord by their faithful example.
May the same be said of us all.
Clinkscales family updates: YFCI Work–Youth For Christ International
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