My wife and I recently welcomed our second child into the world, and we couldn't be more excited. I can't say that I'm a perfect parent, but I can say that both my wife and I try our hardest to show our kids that they are loved, cherished and always welcome to come to us if they need something.
There a lot of things about parenting you can't really prepare for, which is what makes the journey that much more fun. But although my wife and I still have many years of parenting experiences, failures and victories ahead of us, there are a few things I've already decided I will make sure to teach them about God:
1. It's okay to have doubts. Growing up I was always indirectly taught by others to never question God's ways, nor should I doubt His existence and almighty power. But the older I became, the more questions I had about God. It was as if doubting was sought as complete disbelief, which in my case was not true at all.
The act of doubting is part of our human nature and an indirect connection with the fall of man. Doubt has been embedded into our inner being as humans. It's a natural state. My doubts actually kick-started my campaign toward a closer relationship with God. A lot of things didn't seem to make sense to me, and my doubts are what led me to begin studying more. Studying God's Word more brought me closer to Him, and being closer to Him gave me peace and understanding about who He was.
I want to teach my sons it's OK to doubt God, have questions and not completely understand everything He does. God is big enough to handle our doubts, our questions and our concerns. He's not afraid of them. He wouldn't be God if that were so.
I don't want my boys to be afraid to question what's happening or wave their fists a little. God can handle it. I want to teach my sons to let it all out and get honest with Him about what they're feeling. Why? Because I trust God to combat their doubts with pure and vibrant understanding.
2. God works in His ways, not ours. If God answered all of our prayers the way we saw fit, our world would be one scary place to live in. Just like any loving parent in this world, God seeks what is best for His children and will constantly contradict our expectations for our own benefit. He knows what's best, and His ways will always be grander than our own. I want my kids to learn we must let go of our plans and instead grab hold of the will of God. I know this concept is easier said than done, but in the long run, it will always be worth it.
God's plans are perfect because God is a perfect Lord. He is the almighty assurance of life, guiding us towards the greater good of life, His will. Although God is faithful in answering prayer, we cannot expect Him to answer every prayer to our exact measurements. Faith is trusting God even when things don't make sense, and that includes a prayer that we feel may be unanswered or at the wrong time. I want my kids to understand that God works in His perfect timing and not ours.
3. There will be people who disagree with you. Lord willing, my kids will choose a personal relationship with Him, and not everyone is going to understand why they chose it. There are people in this world who will disagree with their decision to follow Jesus; in fact, there are people in this world who are killed because of this controversial faith. But although we may find opposition, I want my children to remember that God will always be by our side to provide us with comfort and peace.
Temporary acceptance from the world will never be able to outweigh the importance of eternal acceptance from God. Although they may be mocked and ridiculed, they can stand tall knowing God's love is on their side regardless of the opposition they face. Their destiny is in the hands of God, not the opinions of man.
4. God is perfect, but His followers are not. Growing up, I had a lot of resentment toward God, but what I failed to realize was that my resentment was due to the actions of some of His followers, not God Himself. Not everyone who claims to love God is perfect, but we can always rely on Him for perfection inside and out. We're human. We make mistakes. We aren't always going to do things right. I want my sons to learn how to separate their frustration towards Christians from that of God, understanding that He doesn't always have perfect followers.
I want my kids to understand the difference between God, the perfect Creator, and His creation, the imperfect who have a great need for a perfect Savior.
5. You're always welcome home. No matter how lost you and I may get in this life, God has an open-door policy that always provides us with an opportunity to come back home. His love always has a vacancy. We've all made mistakes, but the beauty of the cross is that Jesus died for them. All of them. Your sins have been wiped clean, and your heart has been renewed by the grace of Jesus Himself. Your mistakes do not define you. Your failures don't have to haunt you. Your mishaps don't need to be accounted for. God forgives you for your mistakes, even if you have yet to forgive yourself. I want each of my kids to know he is always welcome back into the arms of God, no matter how dark his life ever may become.
6. Church is people, not a building. I want to teach my sons to rethink the way culture has defined "church." It is not just a building one attends on a weekly basis but instead who one is on a daily basis. I want my boys to take ownership of their faith and be living examples of Christ. We are the church, and we are called to reflect the image of Jesus in our everyday lives.
When we take this reality to heart, every aspect of our lives becomes a mission field, a space to worship in and a realm in which to shine our light. The world is our canvas, and the Holy Spirit wants to use us to create a masterpiece known as the Great Commission. I want my sons to see the church as more than just what cultural Christianity sees. I want them to know the beauty of God's church practiced through everyday people like themselves.
7. Theology matters because God matters. I desire for my sons to understand the importance of theology, their comprehension of God and knowing why they believe what they believe. Yearning to know more about God will come naturally as they grow deeper in relation with Him, and taking the time to study God's Word through a theological mindset will help open their heart and soul to a much deeper appreciation of his being.
Theology alone will not suffice, and nor will passion by itself. I want my sons to see the seriousness of learning more about the God I pray they choose to call Lord. Theology matters because God matters.
8. Life isn't always going to be easy. The Christian life isn't always going to be easy or without trial, but God promises us He will be alongside us the entire way. So many people think that because they believe in Jesus, everything will be perfect. This isn't the case at all. You may have a relationship with Jesus, but this doesn't mean life will stop moving forward, tough circumstances are going to cease to exist and rough times will never be a possibility.
Even though Jesus never said life would be easy, He did say he would be there for you in your times of need. The message of the gospel isn't that life will be perfect, but that in its imperfection, we have a perfect and flawless Savior.
9. Not everything has a black-and-white answer. When putting our lives in the hands of God, we must be ready not to understand everything that God does, why He does it and how long He will do it for. Some things have only one answer: to trust God even if it doesn't make sense. It may seem like a shallow and cliche response, but it's actually quite the opposite. Trusting God amid our confusion is a spiritually deepening experience.
God won't always give us clear, crisp directions. I want my sons to trust in Him for that which they cannot see or comprehend with their own minds. I want my kids to use God as their compass in life, directing them every step of the way.
Jarrid Wilson is a husband, pastor and author relentlessly sharing the love of Jesus. For the original article, visit jarridwilson.com.
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