“One thing have I asked of The Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of The Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of The Lord and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:3
Having finished dinner, we sat across the table from him, waiting to hear his reply. Our question lingered in the air and I couldn’t wait to hear what he might say. John has been an important figure in Robby’s life since his time at Duke University. During those four years, John and Robby would meet regularly–talking about The Lord and life and how to grow as a man who would have eternal impact. I’m forever grateful for John’s particular role in the young life of my husband. I believe Robby entered his freshman year as a great guy. But he graduated as an incredible, equipped man thanks to the accountability and mentorship of John. What a picture of discipleship.
Since the summer of 2007 when I first met him, John has also played in my life as well. He and his wife Janet quickly adopted me as part of their family of Duke grads and significant others. From the first time I heard Robby speak of John, I knew he was someone significant–not only in Robby’s life going forward, but also in our life together. So I learned to lean in. I learned quickly to pay attention.
John’s visits to Dallas are regular, as are his waves of encouragement and intentionality to Robby through calls and emails. They have remained great friends. So our dinner together was nothing out of the ordinary. Yet this time, we had some fun news to share–a baby boy on the way in June. John and Janet rejoiced with us. As the evening grew to a close, Robby looked at John and simply asked, “What advice would you give to us as we begin this journey of parenthood?”
He sat still for only a moment and then, having made up his mind, began to speak. Somehow I knew his answer would be a far cry from what I expected. His response caught me off guard, mainly because it immediately filled me with panic. “It is impossible to raise godly children.” Gulp. What? What do you mean I can’t raise godly children? Isn’t that what good Christian mamas should do? And you’re telling me it is impossible? Then what’s the point–why have children at all if you can’t control the most important aspect this side of heaven?
My thoughts scattered in a million directions, but I tried to remain focused. Thankfully, John didn’t leave us hanging for long. He continued, “If a person is going to be born-again, The Lord must deliver him. It is completely out of our control. Only The Lord our God can change a heart and cause it to know it’s need and in turn, be saved.” Hmm. He had a point. I knew those things to be true…and yet it panicked me that I couldn’t do anything about it as a parent. It was out of my control.
So, then what? As a new mom, what am I do to? I leaned in, hoping he would answer the question that was weighing down on my heart. He did. “As a parent, your responsibility is two fold. First of all, plant the soil. Tuck it in on every side, dig it in deep trenches around your child. Teach him about The Lord, raise him up in the church. Pack, pack, pack the soil in. And then pray. Only The Lord brings fruit out of fertile soil. But your job as a parent is to plant and pack.”
I had never thought about it that way. Pack and then pray, leaving the work of salvation to the only One who can bring it. I thought about the parable of friends in Luke 5 who were desperate to bring their paralytic friend before Jesus. Not able to carry him through the crowds, they went to the roof to lower him, right to the feet of Jesus. Trusting that He alone could heal, they played the only role they knew–the role of bringing their friend before Jesus. And letting Him take it from there.
I will be a mama for the first time in June. There are so many thoughts that race through my mind. But this one in particular has stayed front and center. I can plant, I can pack–but then I must trust The Lord to provide. To heal. To change. To save. Beginning in June, my role remains simple: plant, pack and pray. Plant, pack and pray. Repeat for the rest of my life.
John followed up with his second thought. “Finally,” he said, “show your children what it looks like to have a satisfied soul in Christ. That is the greatest gift you can give him. Show him the beauty and richness and fulfillment of a life lived in Christ.” Simple and yet extremely profound. That’s it, really? But then I considered the weight and importance of what he was saying. It made perfect sense to me.
The only thing this baby boy needs in this world is Jesus. By God’s grace, I pray it is the one thing he sees lived out in my life day in and day out. A satisfied soul in Jesus. I sat back in my chair–relieved by the seeming simplicity and yet overwhelmed by the significance of what John just said.
Little one, I can’t promise that I know what I’m doing when you enter this world. You’re catching me in my rookie season. Having never been a mama before, I can hardly know what to expect–especially because I don’t know you yet. But I can promise you one thing, I’m going to try every day of our life together to show you Jesus–to show you what a soul looks like when it is satisfied in Jesus. Yet even this won’t be perfect. There will be days when I will make Jesus look unimportant and even unsatisfying. Oh how I pray though, that you will see Him at work and even through a broken sinner like me.
There are so many unknowns to me when I consider being a new mom. I guess these thoughts rise to the top of my list. John answered the questions I had long been afraid to ask. And yet in doing so, he gave me great hope: it doesn’t depend on me. Yes, I have a role to play–a significant one of planting, packing and praying. But salvation belongs to The Lord alone. The heart and soul of this little boy growing within me depend on His mercy.
Father above, make me the kind of mom who knows my place. Not as a savior–but as a mama, called to plant, pack and play. Help me to leave the work of salvation and eternal contentment to you. As we raise this little boy in the church and with the rich influence of your Word, I pray he would see a mama and daddy who have souls satisfied in Christ. His need is no different than my own.
Plant, pack, pray. Live before your children with souls that are satisfied by the one, true Savior. Then wait. But keeping praying for that soil–that it would be fruitful–and that He would raise up a child who knows the only One who is truly satisfying.