God helps me so much in parenting every day- from big things to little ones, He truly does care about it all. In fact, He's reminded me several times when I'm in worried prayer that He loves my children even more than I do.
One of my most fervent prayers is that all of my children grow up loving Jesus and staying on the right path. I pray this because I know the high cost of straying. While I love my story of redemption and how Abba never let me go, I'd rather my children not experience the forest.
There's a verse in Proverbs that says, "Train up your child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he'll not depart from it."
I take this seriously as I immerse my kids in God's Word and choose environments carefully. But God showed me it's not just how we talk about Him that matters.
About a week ago, I was about to break my word in a little way (to me), to one of my kids. She was out and I'd asked her if she needed me to bring her anything from home- thinking she'd ask for something I deemed important. Instead she asked for something I saw as trivial but was important to her. In my mind, driving out of my way for a big thing makes sense, but not for a little thing. I wanted to rescind my offer, politely.
I was about to go back on my word when God stopped me and showed me her face. I could see her eyes, watching intensely even as she said nothing- the way children do when they're observing and making a silent decision.
He then showed me a picture of my mouth as a broken vessel, shards and pieces of all sizes mixed with words about who He is, His truth and His promises in it.
I knew God was telling me that when I go back on my word, break it, it hinders the reception of what I say about Him. All of the work I do speaking about Jesus and God in the morning, night, in our coming and going, the songs, and stories...can be hindered by what else my mouth does.
Even when children say nothing, many notice and make their own calculations about how much they can trust what comes out of our mouths.
No matter how beautiful the meal, if it's served on an unwashed dish, you're probably not going to eat it.
This isn't about perfection, but integrity.
There are times when we can't follow through on something. Plans change, etc., and dealing with that is part of life, but being honest about that and saying, "I've made a mistake..." is very different than sweeping it under the rug or saying, "Just handle it" and justifying the breaking of one's word as I was going to do. It's worth going out of one's way to keep the integrity of one's word, He was telling me, especially if I want to hold His name in my mouth.
The term He kept using was "corrupted vessel." It sounds harsh and I didn't want to use it as the title, but if it's serious to God, it's serious. I pray a lot for my children to understand His love so it makes sense for Him to show me that a barrier to it can exist by my own hand.
God doesn't just see what's happening in the physical, He sees what is going on in the spirit and in the hearts of minds of everyone and wanted me to know what was happening so I could change. Especially if you pray, He'll show you the truth of a matter.
Words are very important to God. Everything He says is true. His Words create instantly. He never wastes them. Each one is intentional and alive. I believe He wants us to be careful with ours too and that day, He wanted me to understand the impact of my own and to use them the way He does so that when I speak to them about who He is, they can receive it knowing my word is truth.
I like a verse in Isaiah 11 that says God's word "never returns to Him void."
"So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please. And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
His word has integrity and never fails. God is not a man that he should lie, like it says in Numbers 23. It's just who He is. His Words don't break or bend.
Parenting can be really stressful. I get in the habit of saying things in a moment, promising something then finding myself too tired or busy to follow through. The solution for me now is to be mindful. Really think before speaking. Endure the discomfort of not being able to sooth with weak words. Where I can't do something I said, be quick to apologize and make it right. Acknowledge it fully and next time be careful. Saying less and praying more.
I can't use placating promises as a solution to a moment's craziness if I want my word to mean something.
It helps me to think of my word as a piece of shining metal, like a steel beam holding up what I want to accomplish, and everything that violates it as a corrupting agent, an acid, melting or chipping away at its strength.
For those of us who want our children to carry the truth of God throughout their lives strong enough that it makes it to future generations, our word has to mean something.
We can ask Him for help with it, of course. He never leaves us to do things alone.
If you need help knowing what to ask, my prayer is:
Help me to keep my word like Yours: uncorrupted. Please show me where my word fails, where I'm not matching what I say to what I do or even think. Help me to be honest and quickly apologetic and not defensive when I fall short. I know my words are powerful, You said life and death are in the power of the tongue, and I don't want them to lose efficacy because of carelessness. I want my children to know everything about You and need my mouth and words to be strong, reliable, and true. Help me in this. In Jesus' name I pray, amen
The promises of God begin and end with Jesus because He is the reconciliation. If you've been walking through life on your own and want to walk with a Shepherd who will never let go of your hand, here's how to start.