Your Kids Are Not Your Kids

When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.
Exodus 2:10

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Your kids are not your kids.

One of the lessons I learned alongside the parents in our student ministry when we read Alex Cheiak’s Preparing Your Teen for College is that to be a parent is to be a steward.

Steward isn’t a word we use in everyday life.

Chediak defines steward this way:

someone entrusted with another’s wealth or property and charged with the responsibility of managing it in the owner’s best interest.

According to the Bible, all parents are stewards.

We have been entrusted.

They belong to another.

We have been charged with the responsibility.

 

But at any point, God has the right to call us to give them back to him. After all, they belong to him.

In a way that can sneak up on you, it shows up throughout Scripture.

Abraham is told to send off Ishmael and his mom.

Then he is told to kill Isaac, the son of promise.

Jacob and Rachel didn’t even know it, but God sends their favorite boy Joseph to Egypt.

The angel of the Lord tells Samson’s parents he must take the Nazarite vow.

Hannah gives Samuel to God to live in the temple forever.

Elizabeth’s son John becomes a hermit who survives on locusts and wild honey.

And a woman named Mary watches her son hang from a Roman cross before the sky goes black.

Abraham and Sarah. Jacob and Rachel. Zorah and Manoah. Hannah, Elizabeth, and Mary.

Moms and dads throughout Scripture had to learn.

Your kids are not your kids.

 

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This truth snuck up on me in the midst of the numbingly familiar story of Moses. Whether by Charlton Heston or an animated feature on Netflix, you’ve surely seen this story played out plenty of times.

But did you know? Moses’ mom had to learn this lesson twice.

First, she places him in that basket and pushes him off into the Nile. We are scared to let our kids cross the street or hang out at the mall, yet this woman sends her son to the crocodiles and hippos.

And you know the story. Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and raises him as a prince of Egypt.

Except that’s not how it ends for Moses’ mom.

Pharaoh’s daughter cannot nurse, and Egypt is all out of baby formula. Fortunately for her, Miriam, the baby’s older sister, is watching the whole thing. With quick wits, Miriam suggests to the princess that she find a woman who can nurse the boy.

That’s how Moses gets to go back home, and he gets to stay. In Ancient Egypt, young children nursed until they were about four years old.

Moses belongs to Pharaoh’s daughter now. By God’s grace, Moses’ mom gets to be his nurse and caregiver.

Then, she gets to learn the lesson all over again.

Your kids are not your kids.

After four years of feeding and caring for her biological son, Moses’ mom gives him away once more.

She wakes up one morning and realizes Moses has been eating solid food for a week. This game is not going to last forever. Someone is going to notice.

So she gets Moses dressed. She tries to nurse him one last time. Maybe he will latch and she can postpone this another day. She throws all of Moses’ things into the same basket she pushed into the Nile, and she leads him out of her house for the last time. She enters the gates to the royal palace. She kneels to hug the boy who is trying to pry loose and run and play. She says the few words of Egyptian she knows to the princess. She stands and watches as the princess and her boy walk into the palace. The palace doors close.

Her four year old boy is gone.

But that’s the thing.

He’s not her four year old boy.

He belongs to God.

 

Moses’ mom has been a steward given an extra season of responsibility, but that time has passed. Now, her responsibility is to let her boy go and to trust God’s plan.

This is what it means to be a parent.

You have been entrusted with a child that belongs to another. You have been charged with the responsibility of caring and leading the child.

But at the end of the day, you are still only a steward.

Are you ready to send your graduating student to college?

Are you ready to watch your adult child move across the country to pursue a career?

Are you ready to kick your non-growing-up 35 year-old jobless son out of the basement?

Are you prepared now or preparing for the day when God will do as he pleases and calls your kids out for his purpose and glory?

Because that’s the thing.

Your kids are not your kids.

 

 

 

 

 

Numb to Good News

A Poem and Reflection on Feeling Nothing

And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them.
Genesis 45:26b

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Your boy lived here.

Running around the house

Arguing back and forth with his brothers

Wearing that polychrome tunic you made just for him.

This boy dreamed.

 

You wake to word that your boy is gone.

Running around the house

Searching among his brothers

Dreaming, surely you must be dreaming

No. Your boy. Your boy.

Your boy is dead.

 

His brothers arrive with that polychrome tunic.

No, not polychrome.

Crimson. Only crimson.

One color and only one smell.

Your boy’s blood.

 

Years and years pass.

Eleven other sons refuse time its rest.

Running around the house.

Arguing back and forth with one another.

No boys look you in your eye.

 

The earth dry as your soul.

Cracked dirt and empty fields,

the other side of the mirror

to your bitter scars and stripped faith.

You send your boys to Egypt,

the enemy will feed you now.

 

Miles away a caravan treks the wasteland

The sounds do not fade

The procession pivots on the path to your home.

Your sons ride wagons not mules.

Your sons carry treasure not seed.

Your sons bring news you do not believe.

 

Dad…

Joseph is still alive

He is ruler over all the land of Egypt.

No memories invade your mind.

No relief penetrates your soul.

You feel nothing.

You believe nothing.

 

Your boy is dead.

 


 

REFLECTION

In Genesis 45, Jacob receives the greatest news he could imagine. His son is alive!

Notice what the text says. “His heart was numb, for he did not believe them.”

It does not say that Jacob refused to believe because he was numb.

Jacob was numb because he did not believe.

 

This happens to us all the time. Many of us receive the greatest news one could imagine. The Son is alive!

Like Joseph, Jesus’ brothers sold him and left him for dead.

Unlike Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth actually died. But the grave that held him for three days is empty. And we hear this news the same way Jacob did.

Numb.

We are not moved. We have heard it before. We do not see it change anything.

Nothing. We feel nothing.

 

We get it backwards. We do not feel anything and we make that the reason for why we do not believe. In our minds, our numbness is the ground for our unbelief.

But Jacob shows us otherwise. We do not believe. We reject the good news, and in turn, we become numb. In reality, our unbelief is the ground for our numbness.

Do you feel numb? Do you lack passion? Are you missing excitement and conviction?

Quit trying to change how you feel. Change how you believe.

The Son is alive.