I have the awesome privilege of dropping my daughter, Aniston, off at school three days a week. Usually I will first drop my son Easton off at the house of our amazing family friends who watch him before school though. The only exception to that rhythm is on Thursday which is my day off during the week and apply known as “daddy day.”
Well this last Thursday I dropped Aniston off and got distracted by Christmas Card delivering, hellos to fellow parents, quick thank you’s to the teachers, and a kiss goodbye to Aniston. I started down the hall to leave and nearly got to the exit doors when I realized something.
I forgot my son.
Yep, sure enough I totally walked out of the classroom and left my little 11/2 year old boy behind.
I sheepishly slinked back in the room to find him completely fine and playing at the toy makeup station. Clearly, the therapy needed later will swell beyond just abandonment issues based on the toy selection just mentioned, but that’s for another blog. Anyway, I scooped him up, ate some crow from the teachers and headed out the door.
Not that it’s ever a good idea for you to leave your child, but it’s especially frowned upon when you are a pastor at the church you just left your child at. Talk about feeling like a dingy and the most under qualified human being in the world! Just know I will joke that I simply dropped him off at school a year early or something like that if you ask me later.
As parents, we all feel like we are doing a poor job at this whole parenting thing. We worry that our kids will grow up to hate us, we won’t teach them the right stuff and they’ll flunk out of school, they will marry a career felon and end up selling drugs, or they will become a famous comedian whose entire body of work centers around the mistakes you made raising them.
Maybe that is just my wife and mine’s fears?
Regardless, you have your own concerns too, but I’m here to tell you to hang in there. You are not alone and in fact Jesus’ parents would tell you the same thing. After all they may have had the Son of God under their roof, but that didn’t make them immune to mistakes in parenting.
Luke captures one of these famous parenting flubs in Luke 2. We pick up the story after Mary and Joseph had made their way to Jerusalem with a now 12 year old Jesus. They finished their time at the temple and decided to head home. As they head home we read this.
“After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.” Luke 2:43-45
Yes, you read that right. Mary and Joseph LOST Jesus and didn’t know until they had travelled for an E-N-T-I-R-E day! I’m feeling better already about myself since I only made it 50 yards before I remember Easton was gone. Check out what happens next.
“After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” – Luke 2:46-49
I hope you didn’t blow past it, but It took them THREE DAYS to find him!!! Are you kidding me?
I know that I almost lost a future Cincinnati Red’s Second Baseman and inevitable Hall of Fame inductee, my son Easton, but at least I didn’t lose GOD the King of the Universe!
Come on people!
One job: Don’t lose the Son of God.
Yet, through my sarcasm there is a message that goes beyond making us feel better about not being the best parents all the time. The message is deeper and speaks to the priorities we have for our kids. Jesus said that He “had to be in (His) Father’s house” because that is where he was the most alive. In the times of Jesus, the temple was where the presence of God literally resided so why would the Son not want to be by his Dad? Mary and Joseph may have lost him, but he was truly never more found than at the moment.
The reality is that we will lose our kids someday.
They will move away, go to college, get married, and start their own lives apart from us. We want that. They want that. God wants that! But what is most important is HOW they are leaving.
- Are our kids leaving brought up in the ways of the Lord or have we left them to “figure it out on their own” because we didn’t’ want to “push anything on them”?
- Will our kids know who God is because they were around Christian men and women, in church each week to hear God’s message, and living out their faith with you as the example?
- Will our kids grow up to be the God fearing men and women of faith we want them to be or will they float in the sea of religion with us hoping they will land on the shores of Christianity?
Yes parenting is hard and we all fail, but I would much rather fail while striving to make Jesus the center of our homes than passively parenting hoping they turn out ok. I would rather have them stumble and fall in life (which they will), but have God as the center of the world so they are not crushed. I pray that our kids would want to come to church so they could be “in their Father’s house” and connect with Him not in a sterile religious way, but in a vibrant relationship. That’s the true definition of success! It’s not in trophies won, ribbons pinned, scholarships awarded, or millions earned. It’s in whether or not your kids know Christ or are lost.
We have to realize that we will lose our kids inevitably, but while we have the chance we can let them know the name of Jesus as Lord. We have to make every effort to have them be found by Christ so they won’t be lost for eternity.