A Prayer for Our Kids

We've had some sobering reminders lately about the importance and responsibility of praying fervently and faithfully for our kids.  If you and I are facebook friends, you've seen a link I shared over the last week about a young girl from our church (and our student ministries) who is 17 and went missing last Wednesday night.  The details are not public knowledge, nor my business to share, but the summary is that she and a 23 year old guy she recently met, left the country on one way tickets and after a frantic search were located in Mexico.  Yes, drug ridden, crime infested, crooked government, dangerous Mexico.  No place for a 17 year old girl to be.  As the information spread and her parents posted, desperate for any information anybody might have, the body of Christ rallied all over the country and prayed diligently for her safe return.  Trav and I knew her well in junior high, she was a very active kid in everything we did, sweet to the core and no one we would have guessed to find in this scenario.  I'm VERY happy to tell you that late last night, word came from her parents that they found her and she is on her way home to them.  We are praising the Lord for His protection over her life, because that story could have ended differently.  Sadly, there are many parents who do not get that resolution and who live lifetimes in anguish for children who never make it home. 

While it's been a horrible nightmare for her parents and heartbreaking for all of us to lie awake at night and wonder where she is and if she's ok, it's also been a sobering wake up call for us to hit our knees daily on behalf of our kids.  Over and over I've said to Travis, "I just don't know how I'd breathe if I didn't know where Ava or Carter were.  If I didn't know they were safe, if I didn't know who had them, if I didn't know if I'd see them again..."  Usually I couldn't finish that sentence without tears choking the words out of me. 

But the fact is, our kids are not ours to control.  There are days coming when they will make their own choices, when temptations will come knocking at their door, and the influences of their friends will drown out the instructions of their Mom and Dad.  The Lord may choose a hard road for them, He may set an obstacle in their path to overcome or He may take something away that they hold dear.  No matter what lies ahead, it's a scary thing as a parent to know we just can't protect them from everything.  We can't always see the danger ahead and divert it, and if we do see it coming, we can't always convince them to avoid it.  But it's our job to train them up in the ways and the knowledge of the Lord, gradually helping them transfer their dependance on us to a dependance on Him...

And what makes that even harder than it already is, is to know they will make mistakes along the way.  They will make choices that aren't always good, they'll listen to people they shouldn't and they'll disappoint us, and the Lord, at various times along the way.
So if we know all of that, why pray? 
What good does it do if we spent a lifetime praying and they still mess up and don't do what we want them to or what the Lord teaches them to do?  Does that mean our prayers weren't faithful enough?  Did we not believe the Lord enough?  Did we pray the wrong things?  Will He reject them because of it?

One of the things I'm learning while watching this unfold with this student of ours, is that we pray regardless of how we feel.  On good days AND in times of crisis, we cling to truth, not to emotion.  We don't let the enemy deceive us and tell us that the Lord won't hear us now because it's been to long.  We set aside our feelings and our biases and we go the Word to even know HOW to pray.  We also pray because it's our lifeline.  What else can we do?  Sometimes the worst part of watching our kids hurt is knowing that we can't stop it or solve it.  They have to learn the lesson.  They have to know the pain.  They have to feel the consequence.  We hate it, we don't like it and we want to take it away, but we can't.  So we pray.  The anxiety that wants to smother us won't, if we literally lay it down, as many times as it takes, at the feet of Jesus.  I'm convinced it's the only way to handle crisis without losing your mind in the process. 

We pray because talking to our Creator shifts our focus from us as problem solvers to Him as deliverer.  If we try to bear the weight, the grief, the disappointment alone...we wither under its burden.  We also pray because if we don't, we are in direct disobedience to Him.  If we are a child of God, meaning we've believed Him and trusted in Jesus alone as the rescuer of our souls from sin and an eternity apart from Him, then to not pray is to reject what he offers freely.  It's to know He is the way to true, lasting peace and to choose our own fight for a cheaper version.  It's to know that He said He wouldn't forsake His people and then to act as if He already did.  It's to read in His Word the command to rest and trust, no matter the circumstance, and then to decide that anxiety and stress seem like a better answer.  It's to choose disobedience over obedience because somehow we've decided that WE are our kids Savior and NOT HIM. 

Is it easy?  NO!  I literally cannot imagine where my mind would go or how I would know to breathe in and out if disaster struck my kids.  I KNOW that I could not handle it.  But that's the beauty of a faith in Jesus.  He know's we can't handle it either, that's why He died and offered a better way.  That's why He became our mediator through His death and resurrection in our place, to offer us DIRECT ACCESS to the God of this Universe.  The God who sees and knows and can deliver anyone from anything.  He knows we are weak in our own strength, so He doesn't ask us to walk in that.  He asks us to trust Him and rely on His strength for the journey. 

It's a beautiful outcome that a lost student is on her way home.  Certainly the cries of God's people on her behalf were heard.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.  But it's not our privilege to know why He allowed this for her and a different outcome for another.  He is God and He doesn't ever promise us all the answers.  Prayer is not a formula, if you pray hard/long/well enough, He'll do what we ask.  He may.  But He may not.  Regardless of what He chooses, HE chooses.  Because He's God.  And He has a plan.  A plan that isn't "OK" or "version 2.0", it's the same plan He's had from the beginning.  He knows how to start it and end it and it's our job to trust Him with the in between.  It's not easy to trust, but He provides the grace to do it. 

In the midst of all this, we watched the movie Soul Surfer.  If you haven't seen it you should.  It's the story of the young surfer, Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack.  As we watched it, I knew what was coming, I've heard her interviewed many times and yet, I sobbed my way through it.  The grief of watching the Lord allow a path that we don't want for our kids is gut wrenchinly hard.  I just kept marveling at how her parents must have dealt with the sorrow of knowing life would never be the same for their daughter and they couldn't do anything about it.  And YET.  If you know her story or you've seen the movie, it's just a beautiful reminder of our sweet Savior.  As they've trusted Him, He has taken her on a journey that far exceeded her dreams and He's given her an international platform to share what He's done in her life.  That part I love.  But what's hard to swallow is that it took a shark to get her there.  It took a significant loss for a greater gain.  What a parallel to the cross.  Through the SIGNIFICANT loss of Jesus Christ, a GREATER gain was won for all who believe.  Death was swallowed up, eternity was secured.  But it wouldn't have been that way without the pain, without the scourging, without the bloody sacrifice on that cross. 

I wish I knew what the Lord has is store for our Ava and Carter.  I wish I could prepare them for the twists and turns.  I wish I could write the ending...or do I?  Would it be better for them if their Mom, frail in her humanity chose a plan for their lives?  Or can I dare myself to REST in the future that our SOVEREIGN GOD is in control.  HE knows what's best for them, not me.  HE has a way marked out for them if they'll decided to follow Him. 

As I've been reading through 1 Kings,  I am focused on the legacy of one generation to another.  Reading about David's life from start to end, the Lord tells us that "My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes..." (1 Kings 14:8) had a son, "So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.  Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart." (1 Kings 10:24)  It seemed as if David's son would follow in the footsteps and blessings of his father.  But "For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David...Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not FULLY follow the Lord, as did his father David." (1 Kings 11:4,6)  He didn't follow his father's ways and while he followed the Lord most of his life, he didn't do it fully, to the end.  And so there were consequences and the Kingdom was eventually taken from Solomon's son, who did more evil and during his reign, a King of Egypt came "And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the King's house; he took away everything." (1 Kings 14:26)  The disobedience of the father, trickled down to the son and as they both turned from the Lord, disaster overtook their house. 

Thinking about the generations that followed David, makes me think about the generations that follow me.  It drives me to pray that I would also be like David, fully following the Lord til my last day, but also that my children would fully follow them to their last day.  More than begging the Lord to keep them from disaster or to shelter them from making mistakes, I'd rather pray that they keep His commandments, follow the Lord with all their heart, doing what's right in His eyes and following Him fully to the end.  

I can't predict their future, but I can go to my knees and pray for their hearts along the way.  As their Mom, there is no greater privilege or responsibility I have than that.  It's been an emotional week, waking me up to that fact, but I'm grateful to God for opening my eyes to my need for HIM in all things, especially in faithfully praying for my kids.  I pray that you and I never get a phone call like our student's parents got last week, but if we do, may we be found faithful in our devotion and trust in Him and may our kids know and walk with the Lord all their days, despite the bumps and bruises along the way.

1 comment:

Darla said...

Wow! I had no idea such heaviness was looming over those in student ministries. What a frightening story, and yet grace that she is on her way home. This whole idea of praying for your kids has been on my heart, too. Prayer is a much tougher discipline for me than reading God's Word. And while I do pray for Clara every day, I sometimes wonder if I am missing the whole fervency piece...because right now life is fairly calm and " routine" (to a certain extent). In times of peace, it is certainly easier to lose the perspective that we need God (goes well with the redemption study, right?). Anyway, I would love some "tips" on how to pray more passionately for Clara. Perhaps you could share next time we see each other?