If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. ESV Luke 14:26
On Tuesdays I consider my children and plan how to better influence their spiritual development. Today brings a bittersweet post as I write about the opposite of what I generally advocate. Usually, God calls parents to actively disciple their children. This means spending significant time with them, day in and out, to lead them to Christ and encourage their spiritual formation. Hence, my reflections on Tuesday ofteny call me to draw closer to my children. However, part of discipling our children includes teaching them that following God trumps being with them. At times, God calls us to leave our children for the sake of the kingdom. I’ve been confronted with that reality this week.
On Sunday, Paula’s parents called and requested her immediate assistance with her grandma in New York who was moving to an assisted living facility. The logistics of the move were dominating my in-laws, and grandma needed someone to help her emotionally through the transition. Generally Paula would jump at the chance, but I was to leave on Monday to chaperone a youth trip. While at first we didn’t think it prudent, we sensed God calling us to honor our parents, and Paula was on a plane to New York within four hours. This leaves our kids bouncing between five sitters over the next three days–something I generally regard as poor parenting. However, already, I’m seeing God’s hand in this. My dear children are learning to pray for themselves instead of coming to us for prayer (as they do several times a day). They are learning to trust God when their parents aren’t around. We are learning to entrust our children to God in the midst of chaotic circumstances.
Could it be, that what I would consider “bad parenting” is, at least in this instance, an opportunity for greater discipleship? Am I teaching my children that as much as I love them, I love God more and follow Him always? Is God allowing my children to grow in their trust of Him by removing the security of my wife and me for a few days? I’m not certain, but in this instance, that’s my prayer. Just food for thought.