Thursday, 10 October 2013


As I approach Toby's twelfth (I have to breathe deeply at this point) birthday, I wonder whether as parents we are working out the vision and aims we had when he was a baby.  It's a psychological truth that if you aim for nothing, you will hit nothing.  The Bible puts it in another, more dramatic way, in the book of Proverbs: 'When there is no vision, the people perish.'

And so, attempting to understand this in our 'new-parent-shocked-exhausted' state, we decided there and then that we would bring our boy (and subsequent boys....  oh, how little we knew of what was to come) up to be a radical follower of Jesus, obeying him despite the cost.  As a baby, instead of a christening, we dedicated him to God.  For us, this meant saying thank you to God for him and then giving him back.  Toby is on loan to us and as his parents we have been commissioned to train and disciple him.  He's not ours to keep, he's ours to prepare.

In light of these thoughts, we made these promises at his dedication (and for Max and Jonah too), based on the words used in the Salvation Army.  These are promises we did not make lightly, but much thought and soul-searching went into them.

“If you wish the Lord to take possession of the soul and body of this child, Toby, that he shall only and always do His will, you must be willing that he should spend all his life in the service of Christ wherever God may choose to send him; even if he should be despised, hated, cursed, beaten, kicked, imprisoned, or killed for Christ’s sake. 

Whilst living out God’s purposes for his life he will know the unending and unconditional love of God, the peace that passes all understanding; and the joy of having an intimate relationship with God as his father, friend and counsellor. 

You must let him see in you an example of what a Christian ought to be, serving God with all your heart, soul and mind.  You must keep as far from Toby as you can every influence likely to injure him in either soul or body; and teach and train him to the best of your ability to be a faithful servant of Christ.

Do you wish to surrender your child to God in this way?”

“We do.” 

“In the name of Jesus, we take Toby who has been fully given up by his parents to God and for the salvation of the world.”
Of course, our role ever since has been to model living this way to our boys.  I wonder how well we are doing at this and want to make sure that I am doing everything I can to prepare my boys for the exciting plans God has for them.  Being a Christian parent doesn't mean making sure they go to a good Sunday School or teaching good values (although this is important too) it means modelling being an obedient and radical follower of Jesus so that our children will see, in us, how to live.  It means we base all our decision making on our obedience to God, and not on whatever the consequences might be.  It means making sacrifices and sometimes being uncomfortable.  It means having a peace that doesn't quite fit with the circumstances.  It means finding true joy instead of fleeting happiness.
For me, there is no better vision for my boys than seeing God's plans fulfilled in their lives and watching them serve him wholeheartedly.  I don't want them to navigate their lives without a vision, watching them perish with the crushing weight of indecision.  I want to instil in them a passion for the One who makes everything (pain, difficulties, hardships) worthwhile.   
And so, after 12 fleeting, manic, slow, enlightening, exhausting but satisfying years, I am doing a parental and spiritual stock-take, ensuring we are following the track we set out for ourselves at the beginning.  What's your vision for your children? 






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