wow. i read this today. a couple of times. i need to read it a couple hundred more times.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Ps. 127:1–3
Heavenly Father, it is a liberating joy to address you today as the architect and builder of your own house—including the household of faith and our children’s place in your family. No one loves our children more than you. No one has a greater investment in their future than you. No one can teach us to parent them like you.
As I look back over the years of my pragmatic parenting, I’m saddened, for there have been consequences. But I’m also gladdened, for you’ve always been faithful to your covenant love, even when I was overbearing and under-believing. The move from parenting by grit to parenting by grace has been a fitful, but fruitful journey. Take me deeper; take me further.
You’ve rescued me from parental “laboring in vain”—assuming a burden you never intended parents to bear. Father, only you can reveal the glory and grace of Jesus to our children. Only you can give anyone a new heart. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you,” not as a way of saving face, making a name for ourselves, or proving our worthiness of your love.
Oh, the arrogant pride of thinking that by our “good parenting” we can take credit for what you alone can graciously do in the lives of our children. Oh, the arrogant unbelief of assuming that by our “bad parenting” we’ve forever limited what you’ll be able to accomplish in the future.
Oh, the undue pressure our children must feel when we parent more out of fear than faith; more out of rules than relationship; more out of pride than patience; more out of comparison than covenant; more out of threats than theology.
Forgive us. Free us. Focus us.
Father, since our children and grandchildren are your inheritance, teach us how to care for them as humble stewards, not as anxious owners. More than anything else, show us how to parent and grandparent in a way that best reveals the unsearchable riches of Jesus in the gospel. We want the gospel to be beautiful and believable to our children.
Give us quick repentances and observable kindnesses. Grant us confidence that you can redeem our past parental failures. Convict us quickly and surely when we don’t relate to your covenant children, “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14).
So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ faithful and powerful name.
i am printing that whole prayer out and putting it on my nightstand. forgive me as a parent. free me as a parent. focus me as a parent on the gospel and its grace and power.
that photo above was from the camp website of photos. there was one activity when all three kids were together (since the girls are in one location and the boys camp is in another location. smart. very smart.) during that couple of hours out of two weeks, the three marshalls found each other and posed for a photo. because they knew that i would be checking the website and that i would love to see all three of them together.