We take great comfort in applying Psalm 139 to ourselves. It’s uplifting to think that wherever we go, God is right there with us (Psalm 139:7-12). And it’s reassuring to remember that God “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (v.13) and that all our days are “written in [his] book” (v.16).
But how about applying this passage to our children?
Children are often, mistakenly, seen as an extension of our lives. We start trying for kids when it suits our lifestyle. Then they quickly become part of our identity and our routine.
And so it becomes our responsibility to ‘make’ them followers of Jesus.
This mindset is completely understandable, but it’s not the full picture.
My role is to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
If Psalm 139 is true for us, then it is true for our kids too. The One who is outside of time sees our kids as a foetus, a baby, a school kid, a teenager, a thirty-year-old, a frail old person and everything in between.
So we can say, “All the days ordained for [our kids] were written in your book before one of them came to be” (v.16).
It wasn’t me who decided when they would be born, but God.
It isn’t me who’s ultimately planning out their lives, but God.
And so while I want to introduce them to Jesus, it won’t be me who puts them in His kingdom: that is between them and God.
If My Kids Belong to God, I Can Trust Him with Them
There is so much for us to do each day for our kids—with a thousand decisions to make (all while battling that nagging voice in our heads saying, “You don’t know what you’re doing!”).
And so, remembering that we’re raising them with and in the presence of God is so freeing.
The One who is outside of time sees our kids as a foetus, a baby, a school kid, a teenager, a thirty-year-old, a frail old person and everything in between.
Their life is not just down to me and my ability to raise them well. Undergirding all the decision-making, the relentless routines and increasing demands is the reassurance that my kids belong to God.
And He does know what He’s doing!
An essential part of our parenting is to keep reminding ourselves of this truth.
This reliance on God doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll start having light bulb moments regarding how to handle difficult behaviour or tricky situations with our kids.
But as we talk about our kids and their needs with God, we can remember that He “hems [our kids] in behind and before” (v.5)—just as He does for us.
We can entrust them and their journeys to Him.
I hope my boys make genuine decisions to trust Jesus for themselves at a young age. I hope they discover God’s love, provision, protection and faithfulness in their own lives. But I don’t have to force it.
Children are often, mistakenly, seen as an extension of our lives.
If my kids belong to God, then the pressure is off me to ‘make’ them followers of Jesus. My role is to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4)—and pray for them, committing them to the One who holds their hearts and directs them in His timing (Proverbs 21:1).
Applying less pressure on myself to ‘make’ my kids Christians will, by extension, also make sure I don’t pressurise or ‘force’ them to make a decision about Jesus when they may not yet be ready.
We know our own stories: we didn’t become true followers of Jesus because we were forced to, but because we got to know Him for ourselves.
The same will be true of our children. We can trust their journeys to God, even if those journeys are not what we would have chosen.
Our role is to pray for them, teach them who Jesus is, and show them what life with Him looks like. We can do all these in confidence, knowing that God designed them, made them, planned their days and will walk with them every step of the way.