I was reading Philippians 3 today, which is a portion of a letter that Paul (a high-ranking Jew who converted to Christianity) wrote to an early church. His words helped remind me to not always be expecting to get things right in this earthly life… because it isn’t going to happen. We can’t do it. Perfection isn’t something I should be striving to achieve and it shouldn’t be something that I beat myself up over when I fail, yet again. Despite being saved by God’s endless grace, we are held back by chains of sin in this earthly domain. We can’t escape it on our own. That’s exactly and completely the whole point.
And even if we could do everything right, in our parenting, say… that doesn’t point our family to the Savior, Jesus, does it? It would point them to their own abilities, their own strength. It would make the whole focus on themselves and their achievements. And don’t we struggle enough with focusing on our selfish selves! If we could do it all right all the time, why would we need God? It seems like such a messed up plan sometimes, for God to have made SUCH imperfect beings. But that’s where He comes in. That’s why we need Him.
We need to be in close relationship with Him so we can be complete. So the Holy Spirit can do what He was made to do and fill in all of the missing parts of our person. And what a beautiful picture that is.
Have you ever realized that you’re yelling at your child to, “stop yelling!”? I am definitely guilty of this one. What kind of message is that sending?! When we model for our kids the exact behavior we’re trying to break them of– we can kneel down, apologize and explain that we need to ask Jesus to help us not yell when we’re angry… We need to ask Jesus to help us be patient with others; to give undeserved kindness. Then pray for that very thing with them!
Perhaps you don’t struggle so much with in-the-moment issues like that, but maybe you work so hard to curate the perfect, opportunity-laden childhood for your kids. And there’s nothing wrong with that motivation! But no matter how “right” we do everything to ensure our kids succeed, they’re still going to face a broken world. So rather than pretending we can keep failure, pain and trouble from our children, we need to partner with God and trust him with the lives of
our His children. Instead, let’s teach them what resilience looks like. Teach them how to, themselves, partner with the Father who will walk side by side with them through every difficult situation!
Paul says, in Philippians 3:7-9, “I once thought these things (all of the “good & right” things he had done in his life) were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” (NLT)
God has, indeed, redeemed our inevitable and repeatable failures. But it’s not a once-and-done sort of situation. I love these next two verses…
Philippians 3:13,14: “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)
God is always calling us up. Forget what you messed up yesterday. If you didn’t make it right then, make it right now and continue on. Set that example for your kids. Consider God as an active partner in your day to day life, in your hour by hour, minute by minute. He’s here, He knows you can’t do it on your own and He so desperately wants to be invited into what you’re doing. But he won’t come in uninvited.