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Abide and Obey

Being a parent is not easy. Effectively you are “clocked in” 24/7, at least until the kids leave the nest. Most parents are also concerned, to one degree or another, about their children’s future. Our most important job is to prepare them for eternity and ensure that they are raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This is hard enough because…well, children are people and…parents are people, and people are sinners. So now we have older sinners tasked with raising younger sinners in a way that points people to our perfect heavenly Father and the redemption he offers through Christ our Lord. As Gimli says in Lord of the Rings, “Small chance of success. Certainty of death. What are we waiting for?” Yet, this is what we are called to by God in his Word.

Added to the difficulty of simply navigating each new day, even each moment, is the fact that most parents want to see their kids succeed in this life. We want to see them do well in school, find a fulfilling career, and have a family of their own. I don’t know about you but I have a hard enough time trying to figure myself out and manage my own mess, nevermind being responsible for the well-being of multiple other human beings. What is one to do? 

First of all, if you feel a weight pressing down on you as a parent, that is, in some ways, good. It is a serious thing to raise children and we need to view it with sober judgment. However, that weight is meant to crush us so that we look to Christ as our sustainer, and I believe the beginning of good parenting, and preparing our children for the future is quite simple. 

If we want to do the best we can to prepare our children for the future it starts with abiding and obeying. “Remain (abide) in me, and I in you. Just as the branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains (abides) on the vine, neither can you unless you remain (abide) in me (John 15:4).” The fruit that we bear, whether it is raising godly children, being characterized by the fruit of the spirit, loving our neighbor, or evangelizing the world, is completely dependent upon us abiding in Christ. It is through Christ, the true Vine, that we receive our spiritual nourishment. He gives it to us through his Word, prayer, the ministry of the Church, the sacraments, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If we cut ourselves off from these avenues of nourishment we are cutting ourselves off from the Vine.

Jesus goes on to say, “If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love (John 15:9).” Obedience goes hand-in-hand with abiding. In fact, according to this verse, there is no abiding if we are not obeying. This is not the legalistic kind of obedience done to garner favor or maintain status. Rather, it is the obedience that flows from a desire to honor the beloved. 

What does this have to do with parenting? Everything. There are so many worries that come with being a parent. The foundation of doing it well is being faithful to abide in Christ and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, obey what he has commanded us to do. We are faithful with what God has given us to do, and we trust that he will be faithful with the results. 

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