Parenting – The Gardener Part I

As a young mom, I pictured my responsibility as a parent as being a kind of gardener.  I believed that…

When I helped my daughter pick up her toys, I was planting the seed of orderliness and responsibility in her heart.
When I trained her to do her work carefully and thoroughly, I was planting the seed of self-control.
When I corrected her for not obeying quickly, I was planting the seed of respect and authority.
When I talked with her about scripture and prayed with her, I was planting the seeds of devotion.

All of these seeds, I thought, would take root and one day blossom into godly character.

But it soon became clear that there was much more going into her heart than just these good seeds that I was planting. 
My own sinfulness was mirrored in her actions. 
Influences outside of our family planted seeds into her heart.

I realized that if her character depended upon my planting enough good seeds, all would be lost. 

My perspective changed when I read again what God had to say about seed sowing.  Here is the Reader’s Digest version from Luke  in the Bible. 

The seed is the Word of God.  It is the message of the kingdom and the gospel of salvation. 
*Seeds that fall by the roadside and are trampled and eaten by birds represent those people who hear God’s word, but the devil takes them away so that they will not believe. 
*Seeds that fall on rocky soil and quickly grow, but then wither for lack of water represent those people who receive the word with joy and believe for a while, but who fall away in a time of temptation for lack of root. 
*Seeds that fall among a thicket of choking thorns represent those people who hear God’s Word, but as they continue on the road of life, the worries, riches, and pleasures of this life overcome the Word, and they never grow to fruitful maturity.

It was the final seed that caught my attention.  It was the seed that fell on good soil, which grew up and produced a crop a hundred times as great.  Jesus said that this seed represents those people who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. 

That is what I want for my children – that they would hear the truth of God, hold on fast, be spiritually fruitful, and perseverence in their faith. 

Four words in verse 15 changed my way of thinking about sowing into my children.  The words said that the seed of God’s Word fell on soil described as an “honest and good heart.”  This part of the passage redirects attention from the seed to the soil.   

My real work seemed to be not growing character qualities, but preparing the soil of my child’s heart to be ready to receive the seeds of God’s Word.  My response then, is NOT to sow as many seeds as possible, but to prepare their hearts to be tender and tilled.

I went from being a gardener obsessed with the seeds being planted, to being a gardener intent on making sure the soil was of the right composition to be able to receive the best seeds.   

I propose that the real issue is winning our children’ s hearts by wooing them to us, and ultimately to Him, as Jesus wooed us to Himself.   It is the preparing of their hearts to receive His word when He presents it to them. 

That is when the character growing begins – when the Spirit brings Christ’s life into my child’s heart. 

In the next post, I’ll go into some specifics of how I believe that cultivating process happens.

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Filed under Family and faith, Parenting

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