Friday, April 30, 2010

Encouragement for Parents

Parents, do you ever lament some of the ways your life has changed since you had kids? That your social life isn't what it used to be, that you don't get out on the town as often as you once did, that you go to bed so early, that your days are so often spent in the realm of diapers and toys and nap times and runny noses and lowered volume on the TV so the baby doesn't wake up?

In his book The Reason for God, Tim Keller observes that these kinds of limitations are in fact noble, and a reflection of God's own self-giving in the person of his Son. Read and be encouraged:

In the real world of relationships it is impossible to love people with a problem or a need without in some sense sharing or even changing places with them. All real life-changing love involves some form of this kind of exchange.

[ . . . ]

Consider parenting. Children come into the world in a condition of complete dependence. They cannot operate as self-sufficient, independent agents unless their parents give up much of their own independence and freedom for years. If you don't allow your children to hinder your freedom in work and play at all, and if you only get to your children when it doesn't inconvenience you, your children will grow up physically only. In all sorts of other ways they will remain emotionally needy, troubled, and over-dependent. The choice is clear. You can either sacrifice your freedom or theirs. It's them or you. To love your children well, you must decrease that they may increase. You must be willing to enter into the dependency they have so eventually they can experience the freedom and independence you have.

All life-changing love toward people with serious needs is a substitutional sacrifice. If you become personally involved with them, in some way, their weaknesses flow toward you as your strengths flow toward them. In The Cross of Christ, John Stott writes that substitution is at the heart of the Christian message:
The essence of sin is we human beings substituting ourselves for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for us. We . . . put ourselves where only God deserves to be; God . . . puts himself where we deserve to be [on the Cross].

Your parenting is a wonderful picture of the gospel. It's cosmically significant. Keep at it!