The other night as my head hit the pillow I felt weighed down by a lingering cloud of guilt. I couldn't shake the sense that I was doing something terribly wrong, or at least not doing enough. Either by commission or omission, I was failing. But what I couldn't understand was why I felt this way on that particular evening. There were no catastrophic accidents with the twins that day. No one had a meltdown that was out of the ordinary. I hadn't lost my temper with Daniel, the boys, or anyone else who got in my way that day. By the outward looks of things I had no real reason to feel like I was missing the mark.
While it didn't look like I had a reason to repent over my actions, I did. Here is what I mean. For starters, I have noticed in the past week that I have allowed myself to grow lazy in training the boys. Instead of stopping whatever I am doing at the moment to help them in their burst of emotional outrage or fight over a stolen toy, I often stick to quick fixes without really understanding what is going on or showing them a better way. When I recounted the events of the day that particular night I was struck by my own selfish actions towards my boys. I didn't deal with them because it wasn't convenient for me. I didn't lovingly break up the fighting because I didn't want to be bothered. Immediately I was reminded of all of the biblical warnings for failing to discipline and train our children and I confessed to my husband that I was certain I had failed them for life (I'm a little dramatic at times).
But there is something less obvious that needed my swift repentance. It's the thing that I have noticed most in my own heart as I've learned this whole parenting thing.
I can't save my children and I need to stop acting like I can.
My children will be who they will be in spite of me. While I would like to think that if I just did all the right things for the necessary period of time, my kids will come out praising Jesus, but the unfortunate fact is they won't. They might, but it's not a guarantee. The promises of God are not a magic potion.
Of course, for the many biblical truths about God's sovereignty over salvation there are countless ones that talk about our need to be faithful with what he has given us. I will give an account for how I raise these boys. I have a responsibility to teach them and train them in God's ways. God's sovereignty is intertwined with my responsibility. But that doesn't mean I can save them. It doesn't mean that my every sin towards them will lead them on a swift path to destruction. It doesn't mean that my catechizing of them will lead them to repentance and faith. I obey and God gives the results.
This is incredibly freeing for an often sinful momma. But it's freeing for everyone, really. Maybe the unsaved person in your life is your brother or sister, mother or father, husband or wife, co-worker, friend, or neighbor. The truth remains. There is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12). And that name isn't Courtney (or your name). It's Jesus Christ.
We will not always present the message of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection perfectly. In fact, we often won't even come close. At times, our lives will betray the very Jesus we love. We will miss the mark with those we care about. We will sin against them. We will serve them in our own interests, not their own. But Jesus is the one who saves. The same blood that covers us can cover our loved ones, too.
There is freedom in that, my friends. When we are overwhelmed by how much we sin against our kids, our spouses, our friends, and church members we are given an opportunity to show them that Jesus saves us, too. We repent before God and them, seek forgiveness, and trust in his grace to make us more like him. Our kids will see that testimony of the power of Jesus just as evidently, if not more so, than if we had always done everything well.
I'm so thankful that Jesus saves. It gives me hope, not just for me, but for my kids, family, and friends, too. He makes dead hearts beat again. He opens blind eyes. And he alone can save even the vilest sinner.