by Kelly Shipp
My 15 year old daughter, Emma, and I were talking this morning about a heart-heavy situation, and I reminded her to take her worries and fears to the Lord. God was faithful in that moment. He gave me the words to point her back to Him.
After our brief conversation, the kids and I headed to school. On the way there, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw her head bowed and her eyes closed. My heart swelled. I know what you’re thinking- she could have been getting a few more minutes of shut eye before heading to class – but that’s not Emma. She usually is very awake and aware of all that God has called her to for that day. So my heart was hopeful that she listened to me and took her heavy heart to the Lord.
I tell you this story to remind you of something that the Lord is teaching me right now in parenting: He has called us to this role, with our specific children, not because we are faithful and always loving to them, but because He is.
He also wants us to tell them our story, because our story points back to his love and faithfulness.
Psalm 100:5 says “The Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever; and his faithfulness to all generations.”
I surrendered my life to Jesus at 19, but when I was Emma’s age, I was on the run from the Lord. In my mind, He was irrelevant, unresponsive, and heartless. I had heard about his love, I just did not want it at all.
Don’t you think Emma needs to hear about my wayward heart as a teen and how I rejected the King? Should she hear that I was lost, scared, hurting, and enthroning idols in my heart? Absolutely! She needs to know about my great rescue by a powerful Deliverer. She needs to hear that I believe nothing could have made my dead heart alive other than the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well my child does NOT need to hear my whole story. It’s a bit much.” Or maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t have anything to say, really, I’ve known Jesus from my earliest memories.”
The truth is, you and I carry the legacy of faith by sharing the story of how God has advanced his Kingdom in our lives. This is Kingdom-building work you and I are doing when we share our story with our kids.
Do you know how much your kids long to know who you were before they were?
Tell them your story again and again. It’s vital that as they grow, you build on the story of God’s redemptive work in your life. Sing your favorite hymns over your infant. Tell your 3 year old that Jesus loves her, and that you know that Jesus loves you. Tell your 5 year old that he can go to Jesus in prayer when he is scared, and that you have to do that when you’re scared. Then show him how you pray and read your favorite Bible stories together with him. Tell your school-age child about who Jesus was to your family of origin, what your church experience was like, if you made poor choices and the consequences of those choices. Remind her that you give her consequences because you love her (that always goes over really well, but nevertheless, it’s important to say). Tell your middle schooler about God’s provision and protection for you when you were his age, and remind him that when you’re not there, the Lord is. Help him remember God’s Word by putting Scripture to memory, and share your favorite verses with him. Tell your high schooler about God’s grace that never runs out, and that true repentance always brings forgiveness. Tell her about the messy, awful things you’ve done for which you have been forgiven. God’s story is intimately weaved through your story, and while your kids are under your roof, they need to see it.
Emma’s a covenant kid. She’s grown up in the Church. There’s a lot we’ve probably taken for granted because she’s technically been taught the gospel and sound theology every Sunday. But I can’t forget that I’ve been given stewardship of her and my role is to continually point her to Jesus. It is foolish to expect her relationship with Him to thrive because we make it to church every week.
I’m praying for you as you share your story. It’s a good one, because God is good. Tell it to your kids. You’re weaving a legacy of faith into your children’s lives, and you’re building God’s Kingdom.