So, I started a LONG time ago reading this book, Give them Grace. I had never heard of it, but the title caught my eye. When I read the summary on the back, and the chapter titles, I decided to add it to my list of 24 books to read this year (of which I am majorly behind! I've only read 5. 19 to go in 5 months. Eek.) I am so glad that I decided to read this book! While I definitely don't agree with every point made in the book, the overlying themes really hit home to me. I am going to try to give a summary of what I took from the book. It could get long, I'll have to separate into several sections! I want to be able to share what I took from the book for you all, but also for myself so I can look back and see where God was moving!
The introduction is what really hooked me. The title is "Are You a Christian Parent?" The main theme is that as Christians, we should be living our lives differently than others, therefore, we should be parenting our children differently than others. Many religions believe that the law can perfect us, but we as Christians don't. We know nothing but the grace of our Savior can redeem us. We know that morality can't save us. We can never be "Good Enough". Yet, as the book says, something strange happens to us when little miniature unbelievers are entrusted to our care. We work hard to get them to do just that. Be good. Be nice, polite, obedient, little people. Most of our kids believe that God is happy with them when they are good. We forget about the radical saving grace of Jesus who died on the cross for our sin. All of my sins, and all of my Brynn's sins. She doesn't need to learn to be good, she needs "death and resurrection and a faithful high priest." My Brynn doesn't need the law, just like I don't. She needs Jesus. She would "respond to the law just like we would. She'll ignore it, or bend it, or outwardly obey it for her own selfish purposes, one thing is for certain, she won't obey it from her heart, because she can't. That is why Jesus had to die."
That was probably the most convicting part of the whole book to me. Never before had I viewed my child like that. A sinner in need of grace. An unbeliever whose heart is incapable of true good. How often am I praying for her soul? Praying for a transformation of her heart. Praying for her to trust in Jesus for her goodness and letting her know that while it's nice, no amount of good works will redeem her. Do I truly believe that her heart is capable of doing good apart from the grace of God? To be honest, prior to reading this book, I never thought about that. But, I would say that I did behave that way. I did in some sense believe that my little princess was GOOD. While I say that I don't believe anyone can be good apart from Jesus, something in there changed when it came to my own child.
Something that I've been thinking about is being set apart as a believer, as a parent. The book gave an example of parenting as the intro to one chapter. Later on in the chapter, it explained that example came from a Jewish book on parenting. The example was to show that if a Jewish person can parent the same way you do, it is not Christian it's morality. We're not moralists, so if our parenting can be duplicated by a non-Christian, then it can't be considered Christian parenting. How am I parenting my child differently than others?
It's not all up to me!! This is something I am still trying to let go of. Quote from the book, "faithful parenting is hard work..... We're concerned about parents who carry the entire burden for their children's salvation and lifelong happiness. We were never meant to carry the ultimate responsibility for anyone's soul. Not our own, nor our children's. Only the Good Shepherd is strong enough to carry a soul - that's his job not ours. Wow. I for one felt someone (or completely) responsible for Brynn's salvation. Jesus says that he alone is Lord and Savior. Yet, somehow, it creeps into my mind that her salvation is totally dependent on my perfect parenting. I frequently have been so concerned that instead of resting in his unfailing grace, I am trying to find out what I need to do to be a better parent (which is actually what lead me to this book!)
Probably the hardest part of this whole book was the following section: "yes, we're to be faithful and diligent. But, even so, we are not guaranteed that our parenting will produce godly children. Wow. I LOVE the pages that come next though. The authors say, wouldn't we be better parents if that were the case? If we were promised that obedience would lead to our child's salvation? That would be against God's character. Saying that our own actions would lead to the salvation of our children. That would mean trusting in something other than the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. This is so hard for me to submit to. I need some kind of reassurance that my Brynn will grow up to love Jesus. That her heart will be conformed to His and she will serve Him all of her life. However, all I can do is pray for her. Be faithful to Him in parenting her. Rest assured that He and His perfect plan are all I need.
So many things that touched me, changed my heart and mind, and that was only the first 3 chapters!