In the following post, Bill Ketner reflects on what the Lord is teaching him as a parent. Bill serves as an elder at Salem Chapel. He and his wife, Cindy, have two daughters.
Recently I was walking on the beach and realized that in exactly two weeks my wife and I would be in Chicago getting our daughter settled for college. Chicago. That really big city. Hundreds of miles away. And not only would we be getting her settled in Chicago, we would be leaving her there! As my anxiety increased, so did my walking pace. Then God began to remind me of the truths He has been teaching me over the last few years.
I love our children dearly and I have loved being a Dad to our daughters. They have brought me great joy. I’ve enjoyed all — well almost all — of their life stages these past 18 years. I’ve made more than a few mistakes as a Dad and will continue to make more, but I have taken my responsibilities as a parent seriously. I can’t imagine life without being a Dad; however, I know that God loves my girls more than I can or ever will be able to. He created and formed them. He knew them and had a plan for them before they were even in the womb. He sent His only son to die so that they could have a relationship with Him. Jesus suffered and died so that they can have the abundant life. He sent the Holy Spirit to lead, comfort and guide them. God paid a price and did a work that I can never do because He loves them even more than I do. His love for them didn’t end on the cross. He loves them in the here and now.
Not only does he love them, He knows what they need. Jesus says,
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years trying to figure out what my kids need and then providing it for them. Clearly there is nothing wrong with that endeavor. We should be working to meet their spiritual, physical and emotional needs; however, time and time again, I have thought, planned and, more than a few times, even tried to engineer circumstances only to see that God knew my children’s needs better. As my daughter heads to that far away place, I won’t be there observing and evaluating her needs, but God will be with her and He knows her deepest needs better than I do.
Not only does He know my children’s needs, He has the power to meet them. I’m a man of action. I see a need. I take steps to meet the need. And then I celebrate getting that need met. This strategy, while sometimes effective, also has its flaws (especially in parenting). I continue to learn that my control and ability to get things done — or people to do what I want — is really pretty limited. I can’t make a hurting child happy. I can’t make the sick well. I can’t fill the void of loneliness. I can’t change someone’s thoughts or feelings. And as my girls grow up and leave home, I can’t even make a student study. I can’t control their schedule, their friendships, or their comings and goings. But God can. In Ps 121, David writes that God is the shade on our right hand. He is our keeper. He will protect us from all evil. He will protect our souls. He knows our going out and our coming in from this day forth and forever. As my oldest daughter learns her way around college and around Chicago, she will never be out of God’s sight or mind. He knows her every need and her every thought. My power and control is seriously limited, but His is not.
So whether you are like me and focused on a sweet daughter heading off to college, or you have 5 year old heading to kindergarten, or a middle schooler heading into that rough new phase; God loves more, knows more and has more power than we do. And one more thing. I’ve been learning that as His child, the same is true of me. As I face the challenges before me, — as a follower of Jesus, a husband, a dad, an employee and a church volunteer — He loves me, knows what I need, and has the power to accomplish what He wants in my life.