Our Father in Heaven is good at giving gifts. The more we study the Scriptures, the more we realize how much God has given us. Considering the extreme wrath we should face as the penalty for our sins, the fact that He gives us anything is an awesome kindness. We deserve hell. But God, in His grace and mercy, has given us a wealth of gifts.
Many of us have been given the gift of hearing, many of us the gift of sight, to some singleness, to others marriage. None of these gifts are deserved or merited based on who we are or what we have accomplished. The list could go on and on, but the positive implication is that the Creator God has graciously given us everything we have. We don’t always get to know why we are given some gifts and why we aren’t given others.
What we do know is that it is God’s desire that we glorify Him in all things and see Him as worthy of praise. For many of us, it can be a challenge to glorify God in all situations. Take cake, for example. We don’t celebrate eating good cake if all we have ever had is good cake. Good cake is set apart in our minds because we have tasted cake that isn’t that great (like lemon cake).
I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t learn much about God when things taste like “good cake.” There aren’t many lessons to be learned or reasons to rely on God when life is easy and running smoothly. I have, however, gained wisdom through times of trial and stress. It is most often in stressful situations that we reach the end of ourselves and hit our knees to see the hand of God at work. We have been given trials by God that stretch us as we seek to follow Him. We have been given our situations for the sake of better knowing God.
As a parent (and I think most parents would agree), I see the blessings of God in the gift of children and in the challenges that come with raising them. There are millions of unknowns in parenting and it is in these unknowns that God reveals so much of Himself to us. Perhaps we cry out to God for mercy in a serious medical situation, or in a moment of frustration we ask God for grace and wisdom. In our weakness and in our struggle, He makes himself known to us. While all of us will be sanctified through trials in our lives, many will endure the sanctification that comes through parenting. Perhaps parenting is more about our sanctification than it is about teaching kids to behave.
With this in mind, we have made a change in the focus of our Parent Commissioning. We have worked to move away from “child” dedications, as the children really don’t have anything to do with it. Instead, we want the focus to be on the parents’ commissioning to walk through the joys and trials of sanctification in parenting. It’s less about how the child turns out and more about the parent’s growth in Christ-likeness as they raise their child. These commissionings are a commitment to learn about God in parenting, to respond to our children in a manner that glorifies Christ and that points the children to Jesus.
Being sanctified through parenting is a difficult road that needs community involvement. God has given children for our sanctification so that in our weaknesses we can see Him shine through in all His glory… and in public commissioning of our parenting we ask the Church to help us see Him shine through as well.