My Secret to Life & Parenting
JANUARY 24, 2018
A pastor friend once asked me to preach a sermon on parenting.
“No problem,” I said. “I can do that.”
I have a counselor friend who told me that the way we do good parenting is to look at how God our Father parents us and then do it the way he does it. “This is how God does it,” I would say in the sermon, “now go out and do your best to do it his way.”
I figured it would be an easy sermon to write.
A funny thing happened to me on the way to the sermon. I realized that I’m not God. God is a perfect parent because…uh…well…he’s God and he does everything right.
I not only realized that I’m not God; I’m not like God and, frankly, don’t even come close.
God does it right. Sometimes I don’t even know what right is.
God knows what he’s doing. I hardly ever do.
God is a perfect Father. I’m a father who sometimes screwed it up so badly that I can hardly stand it.
“What would Jesus do?” It’s a good question, but the problem is…we’re not Jesus.
If you’ve followed Key Life for very long, you know that I don’t often teach on marriage or parenting. That’s because I’m not dead yet and continue to screw it up.
If I knew when I was going to die, that week before I would do some wonderful teaching on marriage and parenting. But there is always the possibility that Anna, after all these years, will say to me, “Enough is enough! I’m out of here!” or that our daughters will decide they can’t handle the religious thing anymore and become atheists.
That’s not going to happen; but I don’t want to teach on marriage or parenting until I’m finished and can’t do additional damage.
With all that being said, though, our marriage is really good and we have daughters who are secure and faithful Christians. Why is that?
It’s my godliness, kindness, wisdom and love.
It was my lack that led me to an astounding truth. It is also the reason I’m still here, I’m still married and I have wonderful daughters.
This is the truth…
While I’m not God, he really is my Father and I have access to him. He is totally sufficient for every need I have.
One of the reasons I teach about God giving us radical freedom, astounding mercy, unconditional love and amazing grace is because it is only as I experience that from my Heavenly Father that I have anything to give to my wife, my children, my church, my friends and my enemies.
The secret to living the Christian life is this…
Everything I know and do (when I come close to doing it right) I didn’t learn at kindergarten, church, college, graduate school and parenting classes, or from books or even from my mentors.
Everything I know and do right I experienced from a perfect Father who loved me when I was unlovable, forgave me when I didn’t do it right, allowed me the freedom to screw it up without rejecting me, disciplined me without killing me and cut me slack at every point in my life, and whose grace has always run downhill to my place at the foot of the mountain that I tried (and failed) to climb.
And that’s how I became a spiritual giant.
Okay, maybe not that, but it is the only place where I’ve experienced any degree of sanctification. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ controls us…”
Do you know what the love of Christ is? Paul answers that question later on in the same chapter: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).
I once read a news story about Campbell Gillespie, a man who lived in the UK and became a father. That was no big deal except for the fact that it wasn’t supposed to happen. He had been hit by lightning and told that he was sterile. But he became the proud father of a baby boy, Brogan.
Cool. Get hit by lightning and become a father.
But it doesn’t work that way, does it?
Being a father—and anything else of value in living the Christian life—only happens when you’re loved. So if you want to be a fairly good parent, run to him and let him love you. And please don’t forget that the only people who become fairly good parents are those who know that, if they aren’t, God their Father will love them anyway.