08.30.22 | Children's Ministry | by Sara Southard


    A few years ago, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of her in a shirt that said, “this is hard and holy work.” I think about that phrase often. Parenthood is not glamorous. It’s the best job ever, and I love our girls more than anything in the world, but I also spend a large amount of time washing bottles, wiping spit up and baby drool off my shirt, pushing toys aside to sit on the couch, and watching animated shows and movies. I get much less sleep than I wish I did and consume far more caffeine than I probably should. It’s hard work, but it’s holy work - raising these babies the Lord gave us.

    He gave them to us.

    That sentence works no matter which word you emphasize when you read it. The children in your life - the ones you are raising and wrangling and laughing with and weeping over - are yours. That is not an accident. One of the pillars of Presbyterianism that sets it apart from other denominations is the heavy belief in the Sovereignty of God. Question seven in the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What are the decrees of God?” The answer poetically states that for His own glory, God “hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.” We talk about this often in terms of events that occur in our lives, but how often do we think about His sovereignty in the people who occur in our lives? 
    Ruth Chow Simmons, a Christian artist, author, and mother to six boys, writes a lot about how sanctifying it is to be a parent. “Sanctifying” is another big word you hear a lot at church but don’t think much about; it is the process of becoming more like Jesus. It’s like the old joke about never asking God for patience. God won’t magically grant you patience, but He will certainly provide ample opportunity to grow your patience. In His wonderful sovereignty, God gave you children with personalities perfectly suited to His work of sanctifying you. I see it so clearly in my own sweet daughter and the way she forces me to choose my words carefully, keep promises, and be slow to anger while abounding in love. Every day I am blessed with the opportunity to remove the log from my own eye before being frustrated about the speck in hers. It is hard, and I fail often. But God was so good to grant me a daughter who forgives quickly and loves with her whole heart, as He does. 

    It feels like the blind leading the blind, doesn’t it? Trying to raise little people to be more like Jesus while you yourself are trying to be more like Jesus. It isn’t glamorous. It’s endless laundry and washing bottles akin to how He washed His disciples’ feet. It’s sitting with your tiny sinners and correcting them in love and patience, as Jesus did over and over, with everyone from prostitutes and tax collectors to His own disciples. Sometimes, it’s just being present to feel all the feelings. Jesus cried with those who hurt instead of reminding them it could be worse and telling them to get over it. It’s admitting when you’ve messed up and seeking forgiveness, even if someone else “started it.” It’s being frequently and painfully reminded of your own shortcomings. It’s watching your own desires die a little every day; but, thankfully, Jesus literally died for us so we don’t have to do any of this alone.

    Sometimes parenthood is portrait-worthy matching outfits, hugs, and the sweetest “I love you” out of the blue. Sometimes it’s a sink full of dirty bottles. But, hopefully, one day, roughly 18 years later, you will send your not-so-little person out into the world a little more like Jesus.</p

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