Kids playing tag in the yard just makes me smile. Often you hear a voice rise above the laughter, “Tag your it! No touch backs.” That phrase “No touch back” ensures the person who was formerly ‘it’, a secure time to run away before he is tagged again.
As Randy and I ventured into parenting our ever changing, ever growing children, we found ourselves in a continual game of “Tag! No touch backs!” Every year we would encourage the kids to take on more responsibilities, more self discipline, more self-control. Maturity is the act of being responsible. We knew we couldn’t just dump responsibility on our kids. We had to train them to carry responsibility little by little, getting stronger in character, critical thinking, strategy, and maturing as people with each added responsibility.
“Here is the dust rag. You are responsible for dusting all the furniture.” Tag! No touch backs!
“Here is the keys to the car. You can drive alone and carry passengers now. You are responsible to stay aware and drive safely.” Tag! No touch backs!
“Here is the keys to our rental house. You are responsible for gathering the rent from your roommates and paying us. You are responsible to care for the house and notify us of any maintenance needs.” Tag! No touch backs!
“Here, you are responsible to train a mission team, lead a mission trip.” Tag! No touch backs!
Responsibilities are only one side of a coin. On the other side of the same coin of maturity is privileges. I think that sometimes we as parents get hung up on one side or the other. We cannot separate them. If we separate them our children tend to feel weighed down and confined or never learn to work and succeed. Either way the kids remain kids. They never become successful people. They don’t live life well. They don’t mature. We will have a generation of little boys and girls in men and women bodies. Not a good legacy. Not them standing on our shoulders and going further in the Kingdom.
In Genesis 39:2, scripture says that the Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man (NASB). No matter what life threw at him, Joseph rose to the top. God was with Joseph. His presence was on Joseph. God grew Joseph up bit by bit, lesson by lesson, step by step. Joseph kept taking responsibility and with that came privileges, even when he was in prison he became the chief of the prison. Through all the turmoil and hardships the Bible says that Joseph obtained favor from the Lord and the Lord was with him. Joseph eventually became the second most powerful man in all of the world, a mature man. Randy and I read that verse and began to pray that over our children. We prayed that God would be with them and they would be successful in life, that they would live life well!
Now they are all young adults, I was thinking about writing this part of my blog and in my heart, I saw myself in a fetal position before the Lord weeping. I’ve always known that our kids are beautiful pictures of His ‘keeping grace’, and my heart was overwhelmed. It is true that the previous blogs that I have written on parenting are proven, but NOTHING works without the Grace of God. There is Grace to endure and Grace to enjoy. Either way it is Him! Our kids’ choices, circumstances, personalities all enter into the mix of things. We, like Abraham, to our only sons and daughters we have given all that we have. We have commanded our children through identity and boundaries to be lovers of God. We have discipled them above all others trying to live honestly before them as we love Jesus together. We saw them as God’s and we were stewards. All in all though, their lives are testimonies of Him, not Randy and me.
Because Randy and I are parents, we are stewards. God has given us Josiah, now Brandi, Bethany, now Boone and Hannah to steward for Him. We love each of them completely and uniquely. We hold them securely but loosely. They are no longer babies or children. They are mature young men and women. We ask a lot of questions, giving opinions with the release and understanding that we will support their decision whatever that is. We pray more for them than ever. We play tag once again with them – Tag! Your It! No touch backs! Live your life with and for God. Go further, dream bigger, become better people than us. Experience the Kingdom of God and make a bigger impact for God than us! We are forever parents, we are forever stewards to offer encouragement, wisdom, love and pray like crazy!
The game of tag does not just involve tagging our kids, but we as parents are also tagged and that realization can be heart wrenching. Just before Bethany married Boone, I realized I had never taught her to cook. She had never made a cake. She was always outside, sweating, going on an adventure. The kitchen was too confining. But here she was about to be a wife and there were so many things I had not communicated or shown her. I wanted to open her head and pour into her brain. Much to my heart’s sadness, she was already tagged and there were no touch backs. She was being married. The moments had gone, and I could not have them back. No touch backs was not a game anymore. Was Boone sentenced to starve because of my lack in mothering. In Isaiah 42:6 God says, “I have called you to live right and well. I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe.” (Msg) Where I had been either negligent or lazy, I repented to the Lord. I had fallen short in so many areas of mothering, not only with Bethany but Josiah and Hannah as well. BUT GOD!
Although a game of tag is a good analogy for Kingdom parenting and there are numerous instances of no touch backs, God is in the redeeming business. We can repent, agreeing with God and getting His perspective, receive forgiveness and give the no touch backs back to God, He redeems those missed opportunities with our most precious gifts – our children. Bethany is an excellent cook, much better than me! To say the least, Boone is not starving!
At the writing of each of my blogs, I have had to repent to the Lord. In an effort to make others feel better, or for me to be a part of the gang, I often minimized the blessings concerning what God was/is doing in and through our kids. Thus, I have hurt God’s feelings. Our kids are not perfect. And because they are transparent, it would not take long of socializing with them to figure that out! But they are living life well. They are successful people. They are loving God with their whole hearts. So today I am testifying that God has kept our kids. His Grace has kept their hearts safe in love with Him. You know what is funny? Before I really was operating in a false humility which is a form of pride, but now as I acknowledge the beauty of God in our kids, I am completely humbled before Him, over come by His Grace.
Watching our kids mature with every new responsibility, every new dream, every new adventure in the Kingdom, meeting every challenging trial, does bring a sense of pride, but not a self-centered pride. Rather, my heart beats with a sense of honor that we have partnered with God as parents and been crowned by the maturity of our kids. The Bible says that Godly children and white hair are a sign of the reward of God. We have received much reward in our kids and our white hair — well — it speaks for itself!
Originally posted March 19, 2017