I start thinking about Christmas right after Halloween. One of the biggest reasons is that I love Christmas music and wish it could be played all year. There are so many great classic songs that eloquently tell the story of little baby Jesus and the impact he has had on us all. One song in particular has been going through my mind: “Mary Did You Know?” Let me share the lyrics with you and then explain why I’ve been thinking about it.
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would someday walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.
Mary did you know what your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God.
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the Great I AM.
Having been a parent the last nearly 5 years, this song is particularly touching. Mary had no inkling that any of these things were true. Like me and my children, she simply held Jesus in her arms, fed him, burped him, and comforted him when he cried. And yet this is God himself, the Great I AM that she is holding and kissing. The idea of a poor girl nursing the future king of the universe is scary, inspiring, poignant.
If the first angel and a prophecy from Elizabeth weren’t enough, Mary received yet another clue when Simon prophesied to her at Jesus’ dedication at the temple. “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Simon was right… Mary was there at the cross and watched her son die a mere week after his popularity had hit an all-time high.
There is good reason to believe that Dr. Luke interviewed Mary herself when he wrote his Gospel. The next incident that he chronicles is Jesus spending three days in the temple questioning and learning from the teachers. After the family is reunited, Luke simply records, “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”
To me, “Mary Did You Know?” is all about potential. Mary did not know any of the things that this song mentions. However, she raised Jesus in such a way that he was ready to begin his ministry at age 30 and start the greatest revolution the world has ever seen.
What potential do your kids have? What do they need from you in order to realize that potential? How does God want to use your children to change the world? I’m thinking about a new song entitled “Parent, did you know?” What are the possibilities you can imagine for your child?—they are rather endless. Roles that any child can grow into include a parent, a caregiver to you when you’re old, a hard worker, a Bible Talk leader, a servant to the poor, a friend and counselor to others, a disciple, an uncle/aunt, and a grandparent.
Based on the amount of time spent, what are you training your child to become? Typical parents today run themselves ragged trying to accommodate their children’s busy schedules: sports, music lessons, and other various activities. I encourage you to seriously consider the purpose of each and every activity. What is the likelihood that my child will become a professional in their current sport of interest (football, soccer, basketball, swimming, gymnastics, karate)? Some children literally are physically gifted and with the right training could be professional musicians or sports players. 1 in 10,000 or 100,000. But would you even want that sort of life for them?! Even more close to home, what child will become a professional video game player or TV viewer?
I’m not saying every child isn’t extraordinary, nor am I saying that talents should not be developed. I love playing and watching sports (especially basketball) as much as the next guy. But I’ve been asking myself, “how do I want to spend my time training my child with the ‘end in mind’? What do I ultimately want for my child?” I want my children to be hard workers with incredible servant hearts. I want them to have great people skills and be able to serve on a team. I want them to be able to put themselves aside and unselfishly serve their families, their church, the poor, and ultimately their God. I want them to discover and develop their talents and then put them to use in the Church.
This past weekend I took my family out and worked on a community cleanup project. I was struck by the eagerness, heart, and interest of my 4-year-old to help. She was an important member of the 3-person team we formed to do the cleanup. I realized that soccer is not the only way to provide my kids with a fun, team-oriented, physically challenging development activity. The community cleanup project provided all that and it bonded Jade even more closely to our family, whereas the time spent on soccer would have pulled her further away from the family.
A big point of growth for me is always making learning and development fun. God knew my hard-working German heritage needed some help, so he gave me a fun-loving wife! During the community project above, I stopped a little bit short of finishing it because my kids were sick and I did not want to exasperate them. The last thing I wanted was for Jade’s enthusiasm to be tainted by her father’s dictatorial “finish or else” approach. Hopefully she will develop a love for hard work and a desire to use this talent to serve God and others.
God hand-picked Mary for the amazing job of helping Jesus become the Savior, the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the World. I don’t think she had any special knowledge that we don’t have. She might not even have been able to read! Certainly we have much more money and resources than she did. I believe she was humble to God’s leading, followed the Bible as best she could, and offered herself day-by-day to the incredible task of raising her child.
God has hand-picked you to raise your child. Will they grow up to be like Jesus? Who is not overwhelmed by this task? Their destiny is in your hands—an incredible yet scary thought. Sometimes I feel like I need more parent training than my children need character training! Fortunately, we have God’s Word and we have one another in the Church to help our children.
I encourage you to reconsider each of your child’s activities and the purpose behind it. What values do you want to instill in your child? What are your top priorities? What is your vision for their life? What sort of faith do you want your great-grandchildren to have? All these things will guide your choices in the here-and-now.
Ultimately, it is not the job of the teen worker to convert your child. It is not the job of the Kids Kingdom workers to teach your children the Bible. It is your responsibility to develop your child’s character, educate them about the Bible, and engrain the Gospel messages of grace, forgiveness, repentance, and God’s love in their heart. When the time comes, rather than being a radical departure from their current life, the decision to become a disciple will simply be a few more steps along the path they have already been traveling down for years.
Forty years from now, I hope you will look back and say, “Parent did you know?” God has incredible plans to use you to raise godly offspring that he can use to change the course of the whole world!