Parental Inadequacy, Redemption, and Future Grace

Well, the past year has been a whirlwind of changes. I got married, moved to a city in which I never thought I’d live, changed church campuses, and spent more time not blogging than I ever have since I started writing who knows how many years ago. Oh, and I became a father for the first time. Yes, it’s still a little surreal to say that, and a bit stranger to actually write it down. So, this is my son, Calvin Luke. He’s almost two weeks old, and I think that I can objectively say that he is the cutest baby I have ever seen. Every time I look at him my heart fills with joy and I can’t help but smile, which is a long way away from where my heart was just four years ago.

Yet, despite all the joy I feel when I look at him or hold him, I have never felt more inadequate. I don’t mean with the normal routine of taking care of a newborn, because let’s face it, Angela does most of the work there while I do what I can to support and serve her, and it’s not that hard to change the occasional diaper or press through a few weeks without as much sleep during the week when I know I can binge sleep on the weekend if I really need to.

It really hit me the second day we had Calvin at home. He just had a rough day and we couldn’t figure out why, much less what we could do about it. I still don’t know if it was gas or the clothes or the wind blowing in the wrong direction, but there was a moment where I just sat slowly on the bed and came to the realization that there are some things I just can’t protect Calvin from. That day went on and he got over whatever it was and has been a relatively happy baby since then, but it’s the deeper things that weigh on my heart.

As cute as the little guy is, I know that Scripture tells us that we are born with sinful hearts that rebel, and want to rebel, against God. Even if God answers my prayers and Calvin confesses Christ at an early age, the world is still broken, twisted, and fractured by sin. And as much as I want to be able to wrap my arms around him and protect him from the affects of The Fall – from sin, death, and Hell – I’m just powerless to do so. In the end, I came to a realization that I already knew but hadn’t yet felt: I can’t be Calvin’s savior.

Part of me is grateful for that, because I know I’d make a lousy savior. But there’s still part of me that wishes I could protect him from those things, and ultimately that I had more control. And here’s just how powerless I am: I can’t even protect him from being affected by how I’ve been affected by sin, at least not completely.

But God is a God of redemption and restoration. God isn’t a God who only protects the innocent, but a God who runs after the lost and sacrifices himself not just for his friends, but for his enemies. God is a God who pursues broken people for the sake of making them whole. God is a God who died for people like me, and for people like Calvin.

And God pursues the lost infinitely better than I can. So, as hard as it is, the best thing that I can do for Calvin is to trust him to the Lord and not try to be his savior. Teach him about Jesus as soon as he is able to understand, yes. Pray for him continually, absolutely. Stoke the fires of his heart as best I can, definitely. But in the end, I’m trusting God to protect my son. I’m trusting God to save my son. Trusting that God not only has been good or is good right now, but faith that God will continue to be good. Having faith that God will redeem my mistakes and the times when sin and selfishness get the better of me, and restore Calvin to me and to God. Faith that God will continue to pour out his grace on my family in general and on Calvin specifically.

And that, my friends, is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Never has “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” been so true for me.

Soli Deo Gloria

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