Generation Cedar

Mother and daughter holding hands on the beach“The efforts which a mother makes for the improvement of her child in knowledge and virtue, are necessarily retired and unobtrusive. The world knows nothing of them; and hence the world has been slow to perceive how powerful and extensive is this secret and silent influence….the influence which is exerted upon the mind during the first eight or ten years of existence, in a great degree guides the destinies of that mind for time and eternity! And as the mother is the guardian and guide of the early years of life, from her goes the most powerful influence in the formation of the character of man.”
John Abbott

When Christians stop being “Kingdom-minded”, they stop making Kingdom choices. Choices like devoting a life to raising the next generation to love God, to honor authority and to live wisely. The very church of Christ has so degraded the blessing of children (and thus minimized a mother’s work), that it is almost unthinkably ignorant. For how can we expect to pass the torch of passion and faithfulness to our Savior unless we have made it our chiefest aim to daily impress His character onto the hearts of our children?

When we understand that our whole existence is to glorify the Lord, we live each moment differently. We get about our Father’s business. We don’t measure “if we should have children” by their convenience or how many vacations it will cost me or whether I can pursue my favorite pastime or career. We don’t have children to look cute in their ball uniforms and homemade hair bows.

We fall down on our knees with the grave responsibility of stewardship over these children, these people who will either further the Kingdom or be a blight on society, based largely on our diligence to the duty of raising them.

Mothers, you must govern your home well. It is the cruelest act of motherhood that you should neglect to teach your children to obey the loving authority over them. For in doing so, you make them unable to submit to God.

Children who have not learned self-government stand to be the most wretched of all men and women, loathing you for your indulgences.

But don’t you see, it isn’t harsh! It wells up from the deepest love, the deepest desire to see our children walking in truth and evokes sheer delight to walk beside them.

When I see my children through Kingdom-eyes, their vices aren’t irritations that bug me and cause me to be angry; they are offenses that sober me and call me to the tireless and tender action of praying for, teaching and tending the garden of their souls.

My children are the very happiest when I have loved them enough to require gratitude, obedience and honor. Their little faces light up into mine when they sense my tenderest sincerity toward their character.

And then, to place my hands on their heads, kneel over them and pray…

“Father, you have blessed me with this child. Thank you that she is growing to love You, thank you that she is obedient, and I pray that she will serve you all the days of her life”….

causes a heart-smile to break across their faces, and they know–it sinks down deep and they KNOW that I am in this for life, through tears, joys and hardship. I am their advocate, and I will stop short of nothing to give “my life for yours” in these few years they are mine.

From the Devotional, When Motherhood Feels Too Hard

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10 Responses

  1. “Loathing you for your indulgence…” just about does me in for the day, Kelly!!! Still, THANK YOU for reminding me of all these things! I am learning slowly and painfully though, that I also must pray we will raise our children as unto the Lord FOR the Lord, not for what I GET in terms of outward behavior. Thx, Kelly!

    1. (chuckle) Sorry. That was strong! (I originally wrote this piece 4 years ago. Maybe I was feeling much stronger then?) Motherhood has a way of humbling and softening you over the years. It’s a good word for me too.

  2. I am unfortunately one of those wretched ones, struggling to STOP loathing and mourning an upbringing apart from God. Also, struggling for my life to break those long-ingrained habits. Indeed, if you can spare your children the selfishness, laziness, gluttony, lust and complete lack of self-control that come from never learning how to govern oneself, do so at all costs!! The only peace I seem to have is that my extreme weakness drives my to cling ever more tightly to my beloved Savior. At the same time though, I would desire that when encouraging mothers, people would not paint such a hopeless picture of what happens when you fail. (I’ve read so many books talking about how wretched a person who isn’t raised well is, how they make poor spouses and poor parents and are undesirable to be around.) It may be true, but it’s really hard on those of us who are the product of such failure. It sounds as if there’s no hope for me, I’m just a wretched person who nobody could ever want to be around and I’ll just always struggle with it. And yet, God has promised to change me and make me new. I have to cling to that just to muster up the courage to pursue any relationships at all outside of my husband and children (who are, unfortunately, stuck with me.) Perhaps there just needs to be a little more love with this truth. Yes, we should warn people against raising children who have poor character because they WILL INDEED struggle greatly and will be far more ill-equipped to follow God and serve Him, but let us not forget that God is in the business of saving wretched people and changing them Himself. No matter how well you parent or don’t, God can still reach your children and use them to accomplish His purposes. While we must strive hard to follow Him, let us remember that there is grace to cover all of our failure, and though we may choose a more difficult road by our actions (or end up on one due to the actions of someone else) God is faithful to those that love Him and continue to look to Him, and will see us through to the end. He, and He alone, is our great hope.

    1. A Lynn,

      You speak deep, beautiful truth. You are NOT a wretched person. You are a redeemed person, washed by His blood, made perfect by His righteousness and an heir of eternal life. I was raised well and still made wretched choices that I battle with even now. We have to do all we can do, as parents, and then leave our children in His hands. Sometimes that means our efforts “feel” in vain, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee our children will not fail. I appreciate your wisdom.

    2. A Lynn, For the past 9 years I have felt as you do-wretched with no hope for doing well with my marriage, home management or even the children I loved with all my heart.

      This winter was so bad for me physically (and emotionally) that I thought I was about to have a heart attack or had MS. I got a physical: the first non-OB check up in about 10 years. As I am 41, a thyroid test was part of the routine blood work. It was abnormal (hyperthyroid) and after follow up tests and appointments I found out I have Graves Disease. After being on the meds for about a month I could look back and see that all my symptoms have been there since after our 4th baby was born 9 years ago.

      Your thyroid affects every single cell in your body-it can mess with your mind in a way I would have never thought possible. Now that I have some perspective I am able to see that I am who God made me, I am not a hopeless failure, God gave me my family for a reason, He isn’t so disgusted with my failure to completely conquer sin that He will give up on me and that there is hope, mercy and forgiveness in Christ.

      I know that when we find a solution to our problems, we think all people must have the same problem and should seek the solution that helped us. That isn’t always the case, but I could hear my voice in your emotional comment. I had 9 years of emotional torment-all kept inside so the world wouldn’t know what a pathetic failure I was. Almost all of it was caused by an autoimmune disease I had never heard of until 2 months ago. Thyroid diseases are very common in women and they can make us miserable.

      If you can, I would urge you to get your thyroid levels tested, I had no idea how sick I was. I just hated my self and “knew” my family would be better off without a loser like me. In a very short time on anti-thyroid and heart meds I am able to do better at tasks, relationships and keeping emotions in check. God Bless.

      1. Erin,

        What a relieving thing it is to discover something was causing all those emotions. I’ve had Hashimoto’s (hypothyroidism) for 25 years. My parents didn’t know what to do with me as a teenager–I was an emotional wreck. (For the record, I still have occasional bouts with mild depression, but nothing like before.) I do think women should get checked for it.

        1. Bless you Kelly for doing all you do with Hashimoto’s. We have the opposite problem, but both can be difficult. The best word picture I could give my family once I got my levels close to normal is that I felt that nervous tension that you feel right before giving a speech or going on stage every minute of every day. I hadn’t slept more than three hours at a time in over a decade and could never calm down. Constant edginess and frustration. My poor family!

          I am so grateful to live in a time where there is help.

          1. Erin,

            Oh I can’t imagine. I have felt that when they don’t have my meds adjusted right. When the thyroid ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

  3. This is beautiful. You always inspire me to do better and be better. We live in Australia and the government at the moment is looking at financially rewarding mums who work longer hours than others. Our government also said that us stay-at-home mums need to ‘contribute more to society’ by going back to work. We have 6 children and only my husband’s wage. The Lord is our ultimate provider but I feel for those who don’t know Him. Being a mum is a very looked down upon position here and I have no friends who don’t work. But….. let me encourage everyone, that it’s TOTALLY WORTH IT to bring our children up in the ways of the Lord, to sacrifice our lives for Him. He is worth it!!

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