Friday, July 15, 2011

Give Them Grace--Elisye Fitzpatrick

As a parent I have no greater responsibility than the spiritual health of my child. Period. That is my greatest role in life, to fulfill the Great Commission in the life of each of my children. That is not to say that they come before my relationship with God, but that they are the immediate recipients of the overflow of my relationship with God(aside from my spouse). This is true for any parent. Whether you stay at home with them all day, or pastor a church of 50,000 people, the spiritual health of your children is your primary mission field.
I have known this and have tried to raise them accordingly. This is why we do family worship time, because it is imperative that they know that worshiping God is not “part” of our life, but it is our life. This is why we memorize Scripture and do catechism, because it is my responsibility to teach them the grammar of the Christian faith. This is why we homeschool, because it is my responsibility to maintain their relative purity and to protect them from evil until they are equipped to be an influence, rather than be influenced.
But in all my effort, I had spent much well intentioned time turning my children into legalistic rule keepers, “good kids”, instead of children ready to receive the Gospel of grace in Jesus Christ. All because my focus was “law” rather than “grace”, what I could do rather than what Christ has done. This book by Elisye Fitzpatrick, Give Them Grace, was an eye opener, an encouragement, and a kick in the pants. After learning so much in this book, I can safely say that I am going to do nothing to change the heart of my children...and I would have it no other way.
The first question I had to deal with was the question of “Is my parenting distinctly 'Christian'?” Would my parenting be easily distinguished from that of a good Mormon parent or Jewish parent or Muslim parent? If I were going to be honest, most of the aspects of my parenting would not be that different and this is a problem. What a Christian understands that those of other faiths do not is grace, and every aspect of my parenting(and really my life)should be saturated with grace. Sadly it was not. Not to oversimplify what I learned, but it is pretty simple. Jesus did it all. I can not, and should not try, to add anything to His finished work. My job as a parent is to love my child, discipline them, and tell them about Jesus. God will do the work on their heart and only God can...and that is a great thing!
The other thing that God convicted me on is dealt with in a later chapter but God began working on me from the very beginning. I was strongly convicted on the neccessity of ceaseless prayer in parenting, not through points made in the book but through the examples given. Constantly it is speaking of praying and prayers and I felt God move in my heart to reveal my independence and pride—two things our culture applauds but the Father abhors. I was reminded that prayer is really a declaration of dependence on God and in my parenting, realizing that my child's eternity rests on the mercy and grace of God, I am completely dependent.
This book may not convict you in the same way it did me, but it is a great reminder of the need of grace in parenting and a beautiful refresher of God's grace in every aspect of everything! This is a great book and is well worth a read.