Many people that know me are aware that I was raised in a false religion. Despite this I had a grandmother that prayed for our family. In the midst of all the deceit from the false religion, I met Jesus and He gave me the gift of salvation which resulted in a deeply personal relationship with Him. However, I didn’t connect Jesus to His church; it was many years before that happened. Chantelle, our oldest daughter was very much part of God’s plan for that.
Because I had stepped out of the false religion, I was keen to have Chantelle christened. So off to church I went to discuss this with the minister of a Methodist Church. He said he would do the christening, but I would have to take a vow to raise her as a Christian. I silently told Jesus I would do this, but not if the church was ‘that shallow religion’ I had been told about. I also said that I could only start taking her to church when she was a little older. I simply love the grace of God, His love and mercy and patience are amazing to me. My Father knew I meant every word and began positioning things in my life so I could fulfill that promise to Him. It was not long before we moved to Pinetown in Natal, South Africa. In choosing a house to buy (I had gone ahead of Ken to look) I only chose houses near churches. We could have ended up at any church because I didn’t know anything about church, but my Heavenly Father was watching over me and positioned us exactly where He wanted us.
It was in that small Presbyterian Church in Pinetown that I confessed Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It was at that church that Ken was saved. It was at that church that we began leading youth and I saw some of them in such desperate need of parenting. It was also there that my heart’s desire for our children would move from them simply growing into happy, successful and good people to people that had passionate hearts for Jesus and His Kingdom.
As time passed, the conviction that I had been given the privilege of stewarding these ‘gifts’ from God, unto His Glory grew ever deeper. This journey was not always easy. There were many times I blew it, and I knew that I had. There were times I simply didn’t know what to do: What was my correct priority? How do I balance my life in a way that is so pleasing to God between spending time with Him, a husband, young children, church, extended family, friends, the home and those things we believed we were being called to? What part did I play in equipping our children to become vessels of honor unto Jesus?
But, as I said, our amazing Father is patient and kind. He gave me nuggets of truth along the way. He lifted me up when I failed. He covered over my weaknesses. He brought people into my life who helped equip me and speak into my life as a parent. He raised up my husband, who had been mostly an absent father in the children’s early years before he was saved, to be and incredibly loving father, a man with a passion for Jesus and a deep love for his family. Together we learnt many things. There were things we wish we had done differently, but praise Jesus that, “He works all things to the good for them that believe.”
Not only do we not have all ‘the answers’, but we are deeply aware that there are many people who have done this parenting thing better than we have. There are things we wish we had learnt before our children were adults and there are other things we still don’t even know we needed to learn. But along the way, God has given us nuggets of truth regarding parenting. My heart to see this next generation of children become passionate children with hearts after God who take the world for Jesus and His Kingdom burns still as deeply as it ever did with our children.
How many of you have seen the movie, ‘The Ultimate Gift’? The movie is about a wealthy man who dies and the family comes together for the reading of the will. Different things are given to different family members but to his one grandson, he arranges through the lawyer a series of ‘gifts’. The gifts are things like, ‘the gift of work’, ‘the gift of a friend’… So in this blog and the next, I want to share some ‘gifts’ that we have received for us and our children along the way.
The Gift of Faith.
It is only Jesus who can give us the gift of salvation, the supernatural gift of faith, but as parents we can model and encourage faith. We can point the way and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit who gives us ample opportunity to teach and demonstrate faith. I remember when our children were very young, around five and seven years old, that the Lord said I should tell them we don’t have money for our summer vacation and they should help us pray for this. Usually we would never give our children any hint of financial issues as that is a parent’s to carry. But God had spoken and I knew He was going to do something wonderful. Each day we prayed. One morning the children got up, gathered a few items around the house and went to sell them at the entrance of the church. (We lived on the church property and this was part of their play area.) Looking outside to check on them I saw this. While embarrassing, I knew their hearts and I knew this was a lesson of faith so I couldn’t let my embarrassment get in the way. Realizing some people were coming to a Saturday morning meeting, I quickly called a friend, asked her to run by and buy everything that was left, and I would give her the money. She did, only she wouldn’t take the money I wanted to give her. All in all the children made R42 in that short time. It amounted to very little, but they had done their part. They had included some of their toys in the items for sale. God saw this heart and oh how our magnificent Father blessed us. That year, for our summer vacation, we went to a private Game Reserve for a few days, to a 5 star hotel for a week with my parents and brother’s family, and to a chalet at the beach for another week. We didn’t pay for any of it. I remember a couple of years later seeing Chantelle have so little compared to her friends when they came to visit, my heart would get so sore. One day, I said to her, “Chantelle, I am so sorry you don’t have nearly as many things as your friends.” She looked at me surprised and said, “But mom, you have given us faith.” One weeping mom went inside to thank our Lord Jesus for His amazing grace.
More to follow in the next blog post.