I herd my kids everywhere. I herd them out of the kitchen, to the bathroom, out the door, into the van, towards toys, away from sharp objects, away from each other, towards the nursery at church, out to the van again, to the bathroom, away from the bathroom. Sometimes it feels like I’m constantly maneuvering my children from one place to another, from one situation to another, from one way of thinking to another.
I don’t think I’m an uptight mom. I know uptight moms and they and I have striking dissimilarities but I think there are commonalities among all parents. We worry about our kids. We worry about their safety, their smarts, their health, their relationships, their reputations, their future. Most of all I worry that my kids won’t choose Christ, or if they do choose Christ that they will still make those mistakes, sin those sins that have life-altering consequences. I worry about them spiritually and one of them can’t even talk yet.
It’s like in the back of my head I think there must be something I can do, something I can say or be that is the key to their faith.
Can I herd my kids toward God like I herd them in so many other directions?
Well, yes and no. I can herd them towards God. I can be the best example I can be, the best teacher, the best mom, show them the best scripture, Veggie Tales, protect them, direct them…Yes, I can herd them. But, I can’t make them love God.
I was worrying about my kids’ future today. The normal parenting stuff that people worry about. And I was praying about it because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? In my quest to talk less to God and listen to Him more I talked for a little and then tried to shut up.
“Come let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our God, Our maker
Come Let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our God, Our maker
For He is our God and we are the people of his pasture
And the sheep of his hand, just the sheep of his hand”
As this song resonated in my head, gently at first and then with more intensity I realized something. I know the Lord is my shepherd just like Psalm 23 says but I have never sat and lived with the truth that God is my kids’ shepherd as well. That picture of the Shepherd leaving his flock and going after his one lost lamb? That’s my kids. That’s my son, my son, and my daughter. God is pursuing my kids as his treasured ones. He is their Shepherd. He is their guide, their strength, their comfort, their Creator, their Lord. He loves them passionately and pursues them even before they were born. He created them from the beginning and they are in the palm of his hand. He is their shepherd.
So the times when I’m not there to save them from hurt, physical and emotional, when I can’t herd them from danger and toward productivity and good-neighborness, when I’m not there to parent them, it’s not that God fills in the gaps. God is there before them, behind, beside, above, surrounding them with his care and love. God is their shepherd. I take such comfort in that. Knowing that the love I have experienced from my Saviour is available to my kids. That is amazing. And it’s not something that I need to force on them. It’s something that I have the honor of sharing with them, of teaching them, mentoring them, showing them, explaining to them with joy and gratitude that the blessing that I’ve known as Christ my saviour is available for them. It is the knowledge that drains away my fear and my micromanaging and leaves in its’ place the conviction that there is love out there for my children so much bigger than they can ever imagine.