On Sunday I witnessed a baby dedication at church. The mom and dad stood up front with the pastor, and the baby, given to this couple by God, was now dedicated--or given back--to God.
This ceremony reminded me of how, when I wasn't a Christian, I saw my kids as MY kids. Whether they failed or succeeded was a reflection on me. If they misbehaved, I worried people would judge me. If they didn't receive accolades for their artwork or play acting, I felt affronted. If they got praise from the teacher or won a special award, I felt pride in myself.
Sometime after becoming a Christian, I had an epiphany that changed everything. I can't retrace the steps or Bible verses or Godly witnesses that brought the epiphany about, but one day, it clicked: my kids are not my own! They are entrusted into my care by God Himself! Wow! I felt privileged and humbled at the same time; Privileged that God would trust me enough to raise two of His children, and humbled at the thought that I'd been doing it all backwards.
Realizing my kids are God's kids did several things: First, it made me immerse myself in God's Word so that I could parent the way God intended me to. Second, it took some of the pressure off. One day I heard a radio pastor discussing how even Adam and Eve disobeyed the only parent they had, God Himself! I realized that my sweet, thumb-sucking, stuffed-animal-loving, sandcastle-building children were sinners! And when they were naughty, they weren't doing it to personally attack mommy: they were acting out their sinful nature. Not that I could let that behavior off the hook! But I could now discipline objectively, because I understood the foundation for their misbehavior, and that it might not necessarily be tied to anything I did wrong as a mom (In situations where my parenting was/is to blame, God convicts and teaches through His Word where I--not my kids--need to change).
Dedication works for other relationships as well. When I was beginning to live the Christian life, I became frustrated that my husband Brad wasn't also coming into the fold. I was fearful that he never would. One afternoon, I sat down in the living room and just gave my husband to God. I told God I was washing my hands of the whole thing and that Brad was all His. And I meant it. I never un-dedicated my husband. I continued to focus on my own growth in Christ and to pray for my husband. It wasn't too long after that that he accepted Christ. It was as if God was saying, "Barb, I was just waiting for you to give up ownership of Brad."
Our parents, sisters, brothers, children, friends, co-workers, aunts, uncles, etc. are not ours. Who can we let go of and give, through prayer and obedience, to God? Who can we guide, not in ownership, but as a trustee of God?
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:13-16
"For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." Colossians 1:16