The story of Abraham, and his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac on a pile of stones for God, is one that any parent should be totally uncomfortable with. Frankly, I just would never have gone that far. However, lately in my parenting journey God has continued to bring this Old Testament story to my mind. He’s been calling me to hold up my parenting to this example that is in scriptures for us. Am I holding my children loosely? Am I authentic in my spiritual journey with them? Am I trusting God enough to leave my children in his hands?
I am sure many Christians would find our family's parenting methods risky. We do not do family devotions. We do own a children’s Bible, but let our kids choose to read from it just like any other children’s book in our collection. We do not regularly pray before each meal or even at bedtime. We let our oldest chose to not attend Awanas this last year. We go to a church and we are grateful for our church community, but there are Sundays when we choose to enjoy pancakes and a slow, leisurely morning because our weeks have been full of chaos and rush.
They also know that really bad things happen in our world. We were open with them right from the start of their grandma’s cancer diagnosis. There was a lot of genuine, fervent prayer spoken by three young boys during all her treatments. They know that war happens, and that there are always negative consequences in war even if the end seems justified. We don’t avoid topics of death. We often tell our kids that we aren’t happy with social injustice; that it is not right and that we are uncomfortable with the fact that God does not appear to stop it. We talk about our responsibility to be Jesus here and now, to be the light, to be the heroes.
Our best spiritual conversations seem to happen late at night or when we are driving. One such talk happened when B announced from the back seat, “I want to get baptized.”
We hadn’t talked about this, been pushing this, or been doing any intentional education about the obedience of baptism. Actually, my husband and I both have Quaker backgrounds and don’t view the practice of baptism necessary in a Christian’s journey. But I was curious and I want to honor my son’s personal understanding of a God who loves him and wants to be in relationship with him.
“I love Jesus and I want other people to know and I want more of Jesus.”
I smiled. “Well, those are good reasons, except you know you don’t get more of Jesus when you get baptized,” I told him. I loved his desire to feel and know Jesus more…that is what excited me the most from this conversation. “You have all the Jesus you need. But when we do things that help us know God more like pray, or read our Bible, there is joy felt in that. When we listen to how he’s moving us and are obedient, it might make us feel closer to him.”
“Yeah, but I don’t want to do it at church. I want to do it at our river, and I want to invite people and eat hot dogs.” Then he listed those he wanted to invite. I almost wanted to cry. Over half his list included friends who probably have never even heard the word baptism.
It was kind of a proud mommy moment, a God-sighting. This desire to be baptized really felt right, authentic. It was about B. It wasn’t about my husband and me looking good to the other Christian parents at our church. This was an organic movement of the Holy Spirit in my son. I felt as though God had smiled down on me and said, “Thank you for letting me move and speak to your son. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for holding him loosely.”