For nearly two decades we parented under the shelter of home. Our children could glimpse the showering of evil outside, though they generally did so from behind a window.
Then the day came, however, when God asked us to brave the elements. He didn't rebuke us for the sheltering, but rather told us the quiet of those early years was precisely what He'd used to prepare them for what they were about to encounter.
So we opened the door and allowed them to step out into the storm. But they didn't go alone; they've gone under the shelter of our umbrella. As the rain falls, sometimes hard and other times in sprinkles, the covering remains. Occasionally their feet get wet and their hair gets matted and we have to scoop them up and dry them off. We talk to them about how to avoid the puddles and about the pitfalls of walking in a storm. We go over ideas and strategies for helping others who weren't so prepared, without letting them dragging us into the mud.
We teach our kids that they're not to be afraid of the tempest but that they should be terrified of stepping into it thinking there's no danger.
Since opening our door there's been a deluge. Every manner of all the things we hoped to avoid for our kids have come waltzing in, like so many honored guests. But how much is too much?
You don't have to be a missionary living in a foreign land to find yourself asking this question. You only have to be alive and breathing, and sleeping anywhere besides under a rock, to know the climate is almost uninhabitable these days. Which is exactly why so many are needing rescued. The valiant parents within us want to scream, "Let us do the rescuing! Keep the children tucked away!"
But is that how to best make disciples of them? When Jesus walked among us, making workers of the twelve, He didn't set them aside to observe until they were ready. He readied them by setting them to work right alongside Him. He was there to answer their questions, to correct their missteps, to dispel their fears. He spoke to their doubting hearts of a rescue very unlike the one they'd hoped for.
He gave them what they needed but rarely what they wanted.
The desire within us to protect our kids is Biblical. It's written into the fiber of our being and there's no reason for it to be un-written or re-written. It must simply be read in its fullness. Because there comes a time when protection starts to look dangerously close to presumption.
That's where I'm standing right now. On a cliff where rocks are sliding and mud is slipping and it feels like my whole family's going down. But then we see there are strong Hands holding us fast while a tender voice asks us to work in an area scantily prepared for such a storm. Our kids are knee-deep in it with us, but we're right here talking them through it. We're watching them fall and coaching them on how to get back up. We're listening when they tell us the gale is too much and so we know when to pull them back in a little closer. We're praying with and for them, and teaching them to do the same for others.
So when you see us spattered with mud we just want you to know, we know the spatters are there. And we know where to go for the cleansing. But we also know there's no growth at all if we're not willing to get dirty.
Letting our kids get dirty with us is the only way we know to get them clean.