Thursday, September 12, 2013


"Sexually abused." Sex." "Intercourse."

I made an inward gasp and felt the floor disappear from my heart. My eyes fluttered to the seat beside me to look at her little frame. Is her back always so straight? Do her eyes usually pay such attention to the front of the room? She was this morning and, of all mornings, why wasn't she buried in her coloring book or looking for the next crayon?

The room was dark but enough light came through the back windows that I could make eye contact with Brad. He looked at me with casual surprise but mostly had his eyes locked on her face as she listened to the story of redemption. My heart leapt without reservation from the screen to my girl and back again as the story wove thick and colorful threads throughout the room, like a net catching our hearts. Her bravery was noble, that girl on the screen. To share such wounding that would one day be met with such mercy and compassion. The gospel gave me goosebumps that morning and my watery eyes burned as my heart overflowed.

I couldn't catch the words before they landed on her innocence but it was acceptable because she sat with a pillar of parent on her right and her left and she learned - again - that life is not safe and that Jesus always pursues our pain, like catching the pieces of a puzzle falling in slow motion. Her whimsy returned two minutes later, she immersed herself in the busy bag, and we exhaled with relief that she didn't ask questions.

The fullness of Christ is found in the church.  (Ephesians 1:23)

As I processed what we had watched, with our daughter at the age of seven that morning in our church service, I was surprised at my comfort and relief. If you had asked me the night before what I thought, I would have erred on the side of caution and suggested that children leave the room before the clip was played. Sometimes it takes being blindsided to realize the deep truths that need to take root in our parenting philosophy. It should not disturb us that our children can (and should!) hear the ragged stories in our churches and city groups. Have you considered the work of the Bible lately? Have you scanned the breadth of sins that the blood of Jesus covers? Sunday school messages that teach our children to focus on the colors of the rainbow at the end of "Noah's Ark" are making light of the genocide that drowned men, women, and children and how a man who "walked with God" was saved. The story of God is not a safe one.

The fullness of Christ, for my children, is found in the church. 

Our children walk with tender, open hearts and accept what they hear as absolute truth. Every single attitude and perspective and response is created by the words that are planted in their minds. They listen, they watch, and they absorb. And the voices, oh, the voices. As much thought as I give to what my children hear, so I give to whom they are hearing it from. I pray that my children will be surrounded by men and women who tenderly hand them pieces of God's story and remind them that God is glorious and good. This is what it means to raise our children in community. This is what it means when we say it takes a village. This is what it means for the church to preach the gospel to our children.  

Because there is no place, besides my home, that I would rather them hear truth and love and light than the church. The glorious and aged church that has the opportunity to speak into our children's lives, before culture turns on its loudspeaker and before the playground steals them from our laps. We must insist that our churches take back the responsibility of equipping families for the work of the gospel, for the love of the King, and for the sake of our salvation. It's a daring and hard work but this partnership is the most effective way to disciple our sons and daughters in the kingdom.

She wouldn't remember that morning if you asked her about it. The words planted something deep below the surface, a seed that will be nurtured over time by the displays of vulnerability she witnesses and words that appear to miss her comprehension. She will, however, develop a love for broken stories that surround each of us and she will have the courage to embrace the hurting. She will learn it from me and she will learn it from us and she will impart it to her children. What a legacy.

Image courtesy of Go Forth Creative