The Parenthood Files: Direct, Instruct, and Tend

In Sunday School last week, we discussed the judges of the Old Testament. We learned about the key role they played for the Israelites. We saw how this group of people, the Israelites, were able to love and obey God…only with the guidance of a judge. The judge would lead God’s people and direct them onto paths that were righteous, steering them away from the path of sin. The appointed judge would help them know how to love and live for the one true God.

I cannot even imagine taking on such a position as that of the judge. What a taxing job that must have been, I mean the people of Israel were not exactly known for their steadfast and obedient hearts. The people of Israel had hearts that were prone to wander. They were, in essence, a constant failure without someone there to lead them in the ways of the Lord. We see them repeatedly fall into patterns of sin and we see their hearts shun God whenever they had no judge to guide and direct them. Much like our own wander-prone hearts.

As I was typing up a reflection of the lesson for the parents in my Sunday School class, I was reminded of my role as a parent. In so many ways, I see my position as a mother mirrored as that of a judge. Just as the people of Israel needed someone to guide and direct them in ways of the Lord and just as they were taught how to love God, so also do my children need to be directed and taught.

But in the role that a parent takes on to direct and instruct, there is that which we (as parents) will never be able to accomplish for our children. Just as the judges of Israel could not rescue the hearts of the people, so also are we lacking. There is only one who can rescue and redeem the hearts of our children, and that person is Jesus Christ. 

“For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us.” – Isaiah 33:22

As parents who are believers, my husband and I strive to guide and instruct our children in ways that will: point them to Christ, point them to a life that pursues holiness, and a life that loves and glorifies God. But in all the ways we strive to lead our children to God, He is the only one who can draw them in and change their hearts. He is the ultimate Judge, because in the way His spirit directs and instructs our hearts, so also through His Son are the hearts and lives of our children redeemed and restored. He will save us. 

As parents, we will be faithful and vigilant to direct and instruct our children, just as the judges of old, except now, we have what the judges did not: We have a Christ who died, was buried and rose from the grave. We have the living hope found in Jesus Christ, who sits on the throne at the right-hand of the Father, and that makes all the difference. We have grace. As parents, we tend the hearts of our children knowing it is only God who can change and rescue the hearts of our children.

I think that is where the definitive lies – in the tending of the heart. Along with instruction and direction, comes the important task of tending the heart of our children. It is the heart of each person that God seeks and it would seem that as parents, our job is to tend those hearts well. We direct our children to know how to live for Him, we instruct their minds to know about and understand Him and we tend their hearts to help them know how to love Him and to know His love for them. In doing all these things, we are not guaranteed anything…but in doing all these things we are obediently fulfilling our spiritual roles to our children. We can rest and trust in God’s sovereignty for everything else.

“Our key passage tells us that God is our Judge, God is our Lawgiver, and God is our King. God uses people in His plan, but He is the One in charge of everything. God has power over people and uses them to work out His good plan.” – Excerpt from The Gospel Project for Preschool


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