I usually get five minutes. At the most.
When the girls were babies, they spent all of their time with me. They stayed home, they stayed close, and they stayed with me. On those rare occasions that I could convince one or both of them to spend one hour of the entire week in the church nursery, I would spend that hour with bated breath, wondering how they were doing, ready to rush back and be with them again, as soon as possible.
You might think I was overprotective, that it wasn’t good for them to be with me all the time. But they were mine to protect, to care for, and to watch over. And I sang songs about Jesus in my awful, off-key voice, I prayed prayers begging God to direct their hearts towards Him, and I reminded myself that these days were short and that they’d be off into the world sooner than I could imagine.
That day has come. They go to school. They spend hours in an environment I can’t control, in a world I can’t monitor, full of choices that I can’t make for them. They go to their own church programs. They spend a few hours learning theology from someone else, relating to other children, making choices that I can’t make for them. They do their own thing. They make friendships, they experience life, they make so many choices on their own.
And I usually get five minutes, at the most, to pray over them, to speak truth over them, as we’re driving to these places, as we’re saying last goodbyes, and as they’re getting ready to leave.
I’m not ready.
I don’t pray for them to be sheltered. I pray for them to encounter reality, to see what life is really like, and to know clearly, in these early days, that there is choosing to be done when it comes to who they’ll be and who they’ll follow. And in those five minutes, I pray for them to see clearly, to know themselves, and to long for the peace of Christ, to desire Him so intensely, and to give every single moment to Him.
I’m scared to death that they’ll grow up to be good church kids who compartmentalize their lives, delegating God to part of who they are, rather than letting Him transform every part of them. I’m terrified that they’ll have all the right answers about Jesus and not let the truth of the Gospel change their hearts. I’m so afraid that they’ll cling to a form of godliness in word and go out and live godless lives through their actions.
I’m scared that they’ll know all about Him… and not really know Him.
I think about this in those five minutes, as Ana is likely thinking about how many books she can read before the first bell and Emma is likely thinking about the brownies packed in her lunchbox. I think about how they’ll be seventeen and sixteen before I know it. I think about who I was at that age, about how I knew Christ, how I loved Him so passionately, how I stepped out of the car after my own five minute drive and knew that He went before me, that He was shaping my future, that He was everything. And He still is!
I want that for them. I want better for them. I want them to be more passionate about Him than I have ever been. I want them to grow into young women who love Him, who live every moment for Him, who have His glory and His acclaim as first place in their hearts, who can face anything because He is good, He is worthy, and He is able.
And in those five minutes, as I’m sharing truth with them, as I’m praying truth over them, God reminds me of His truth… that faith is initiated by Him, that life change is accomplished by Him, and that godly women are shaped by Him. Not by me. My prayers are heard, my prayers are in agreement with His heart, but my prayers are not magical incantations that change the hearts of my children.
Only He can do that.
And so when five minutes seems like not enough time to give them the whole counsel of Scripture as they prepare for another school day (Mommy has tried to cram it all in, y’all!), I breathe out, put my faith in His goodness, and say, “Hey, Jesus is going to be with you today, you know? Everywhere you go today — He’s going with you, just like He promised He would in the Bible.”
And Ana, already sounding like she probably will at seventeen, tells me, “Oh, I know that.” And Emma, already sounding like she probably will at sixteen shouts, “It’s gonna be a GREAT DAY!”
Praying that He would be everything to them…