Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why I'm No Longer Praying for My Kids to Be Safe

Marlin: I promised I'd never let anything happen to him.
Dory: Hm. That's a funny thing to promise.
Marlin: What?
Dory: Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.

Today, I joined the ranks of all the other parents launching their kids into a new school year. The girls were up extra early, donning new outfits and curling their hair and filling their bathroom with a swirl of Pink Chiffon body splash and hair spray and lip gloss. (Oh, this whole new world of preteen girls!)

Little guy was also up early, but with only one thing on his mind: did the Tooth Fairy come? (He lost his OTHER front tooth yesterday!) I actually had to remind him it was the first day of school, so he threw on a T-shirt and shorts and sauntered out to breakfast. (Obviously, boys are a LOT easier at this age.)

Over breakfast, we read our daily devotional and then I prayed for them as they begin this new adventure.

But this year… my prayer for them is different.

In years past, I've prayed for God to keep them safe. To protect them. To make sure nothing happens to them while they’re away from home.

There’s nothing wrong with praying for your kids’ safety, of course. The Bible is filled with prayers for God's protection. 

However, I've learned something very significant this past year.

In order for us to grow and mature and become the people God wants us to be…

* We have to fail. And learn from our mistakes. Then we can give ourselves grace and move forward with the wisdom that comes only from experience.

* We have to get hurt. And learn to get up again. Then we can experience the freedom of forgiveness and develop a tender compassion for others who are hurting too.

* We have to experience hard things. And learn from the struggle. Then we can deepen our strength, courage, tenacity, and character.

* We have to be challenged in our faith. And learn that God sends us as lights in this dark world. Then we can see others from God's perspective and depend more fully on God every day.

So if we want our kids to grow into the men and women God designed them to be, something has to happen to them.

As Dory pointed out in Finding Nemo, if your goal as a parent is not to let anything happen to your kids... well, then nothing will ever happen to them. They'll be stunted in their growth. God can't sculpt our kids unless we step back and allow Him to get out His chisel.

So this year, I'm not praying that God would keep my kids safe.

Instead, I'm praying that God would do whatever it takes to shape my kids into mature Christ-followers.

I'm praying that God would give me wisdom to guide them through their failures, pain, and challenges and keep pointing them toward the Cross.

And I'm praying that God would use their experiences this year to make them dangerous--to stand up for what is right regardless of consequences, to show unflinching compassion, to take risks, and to share with boldness the good news of Jesus Christ with those who desperately need hope.

Whether you are sending your kids off to school on the bus, in school uniforms, or to the kitchen table, I urge you to join me in praying for so much more than safety for our kids.

Let's pray that something will happen to them.

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