The Unlikely Life of a Parent

Parents sometimes feel like the most unlikely people in the world. But God thinks otherwise. As we prepare for our new series this upcoming weekend, here’s some encouragement from our youth ministry. Parents, we believe in you!

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The Unlikely Life of a Parent by Tim Walker

The concept of “unlikely” is nothing new to parents, is it? Just think about it. As parents, we are constantly realizing we are unlikely people God uses in unlikely places to respond in unlikely ways. Let’s break that down (insert crazy beat, okay, maybe not):

We are unlikely. No matter how much we thought we knew about being a parent before we actually were one, there is nothing that makes a mom or dad feel unlikely than coming home with a newborn baby. Being a parent changes everything. We never hear a screaming baby in the store or a restaurant the same way again. We never look at a tired parent chasing a toddler the same way again. We never look at the parent of a teen standing there dazed and confused the same way again. Becoming a parent brings the reality that no matter how much we thought we knew, we realize it’s not as simple as we once thought.

There are times when we feel like the most ineffective parent, and then there are times when we get a sense of hope that maybe the future therapy bill of our children may not be as high as we feared it would be.

As much as parenting may seem like a roller coaster of a ride, God placed us in this role on purpose. He gave us the role to be our child’s mother, or our child’s father. Even though we may have considered ourselves an unlikely person to be a parent, or wondering since becoming one if we are as qualified for the job as we think we should be, God thinks we are. That’s why He entrusted our child to our care. The Bible is filled with examples of God using unlikely people—people who had counted themselves out, and people others counted out as well. But the more these unlikely people leaned into Him and made themselves available, the more God worked through them.

God uses us in unlikely places. It seems like there’s no more unlikely place to find God than cleaning up after a sick child in the middle of the night. Or waiting in a long line at an amusement park. Or driving the kids to practice or class. But God can use even the most mundane, ordinary, unlikely places in our lives to impact others. Sometimes it’s in the places we would least expect to find God that we run straight into Him.

But it isn’t just the physical places that seem unlikely for big things to happen. Sometimes life throws us curve balls and with little to no warning and we find ourselves in the midst of a job loss, an illness, or a divorce. It’s in these places that we wonder, “Can anything good come from here? Can this be used for anything bigger than just hurt and pain?” Fortunately, God has a reputation for showing up in the places we least expect Him to, to do the things we would least anticipate. After all, He chose a stable to make His appearance on Earth and a cross as a way to conquer death. Not exactly what we may have had in mind. But God isn’t limited by an unlikely situation or an unlikely place.

No matter how broken your home, no matter how financially messy your life, no matter how stressful your job, don’t count God out. He just may show up when you least expect Him. Look for Him.

God calls us to respond in unlikely ways. One of the more tricky things about parenting is, just when it seems like we have it figured out, our kids change, grow up and throw a wrench in our whole philosophy. We can never stay comfortable where we are for very long.

There will be times when we will best love our kids by providing boundaries and discipline, and there are times when we will best love our kids by extending grace in the midst of some big mistakes. Unfortunately, there is no formula or equation to figure out when to do what. Parenting keeps us on our toes—requiring us to grow and change in our parenting skills just as our kids grown and mature.

The one constant is our need to remember to love. At all times. At all costs. Sometimes that seems like too big a request. An unlikely response when our teenager has pushed every last button and challenged every last rule. But those are the times we can best demonstrate the heart God has for them—and for us too. Responding in love is a lesson worth learning. It may not feel natural. And it may not come easily. But it can be the beginning of you and your child better understanding the love God has lavished on us.

So just remember, even though you may feel like an unlikely candidate in an unlikely place to be the parent your teenager needs, God can use you just as you are, just where you are, to respond in unlikely ways.

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Psalm 107

Psalm 107

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

3 those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.t

4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.

5 They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.

6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.

7 He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.

8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

9 for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,

11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.

12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.

13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.

14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.

15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.

18 They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death.

19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.

20 He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.

21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.

23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.

24 They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.

25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.

26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.

27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.

28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.

29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the seat were hushed.

30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.

31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.

33 He turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,

34 and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.

35 He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;

36 there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.

37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards
that yielded a fruitful harvest;

38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
and he did not let their herds diminish.

39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
by oppression, calamity and sorrow;

40 he who pours contempt on nobles
made them wander in a trackless waste.

41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
and increased their families like flocks.

42 The upright see and rejoice,
but all the wicked shut their mouths.

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

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What about this Psalm stands out to you? How have you seen God “satisfy the thirsty” and/or “fill the hungry with good things”?

Psalm 50

Here’s another chance to respond to a Psalm. Having trouble getting started? Click here to get some ideas.

PSALM 50 (CEV)

1 [ A psalm by Asaph. ] From east to west,
the powerful Lord God has called together
everyone on earth.

2 God shines brightly from Zion, the most beautiful city.

3 Our God approaches, but not silently;
a flaming fire comes first,
and a storm surrounds him.

4 God comes to judge his people. He shouts to the heavens
and to the earth,

5 “Call my followers together! They offered me a sacrifice,
and we made an agreement.”

6 The heavens announce, “God is the judge,
and he is always honest.”

7 My people, I am God! Israel, I am your God.
Listen to my charges
against you.

8 Although you offer sacrifices and always bring gifts,

9 I won’t accept your offerings of bulls and goats.

10 Every animal in the forest belongs to me,
and so do the cattle
on a thousand hills.

11 I know all the birds in the mountains,
and every wild creature
is in my care.

12 If I were hungry, I wouldn’t tell you,
because I own the world
and everything in it.

13 I don’t eat the meat of bulls or drink the blood of goats.

14 I am God Most High! The only sacrifice I want
is for you to be thankful
and to keep your word.

15 Pray to me in time of trouble. I will rescue you,
and you will honor me.

16 But to the wicked I say: “You don’t have the right
to mention my laws or claim
to keep our agreement!

17 You refused correction and rejected my commands.

18 You made friends with every crook you met,
and you liked people who break
their wedding vows.

19 You talked only about violence and told nothing but lies;

20 you sat around gossiping, ruining the reputation
of your own relatives.”

21 When you did all of this, I didn’t say a word,
and you thought,
“God is just like us!”
But now I will accuse you.

22 You have ignored me! So pay close attention
or I will tear you apart,
and no one can help you.

23 The sacrifice that honors me is a thankful heart.
Obey me, and I, your God, will show my power to save.

THROUGH THE WINDOW: Psalm 43

Here’s the first Psalm we’re responding to. If you’re not sure what to do, click here.
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Psalm 43
Show that I am right, God!
Defend me against everyone
who doesn’t know you;
rescue me from each
of those deceitful liars.

I run to you for protection.
Why have you turned me away?
Why must enemies mistreat me
and make me sad?

Send your light and your truth to guide me.
Let them lead me to your house
on your sacred mountain.

Then I will worship at your altar because you
make me joyful.
You are my God,
and I will praise you.
Yes, I will praise you
as I play my harp.

Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless?
I trust you!
And I will praise you again
because you help me,
and you are my God.

THROUGH THE WINDOW: Reflections

Sometimes when we read the Psalms, we may not feel like we can relate to what we are reading. Other times, we can pick up the Bible, open up to the Psalms and say with the Psalmist, “Hear my prayer, Lord!” Over the next three weeks, you are invited to respond to the Psalms. You have the opportunity to respond to nine different Psalms, but not in a research paper, school-answer sort of way. As you read each Psalm, you can respond by writing a reflection about how that Psalm made you feel and whether you can identify with what the Psalmist is writing. As well, you can get creative and write your own Psalm–a creative piece to try to put yourself in the shoes of the Psalmist. Write a poem, song, acrostic–any form of writing to capture what the Psalmist is saying and put those feelings into your own words and life experience. How are you frustrated? What are you celebrating? How are you crying out? If you don’t want to write a creative piece, that’s okay! Just respond to the Psalms by writing a brief statement about your reaction to each Psalm.

We learn best when we learn in community, so let’s get the talking started! To write, follow these instructions:

1. Click “Leave a Comment”
2. Write your entry in the box at the bottom called “Leave a Reply”
3. Then click “Guest” and enter your name and email, OR you can leave the comment through your Facebook or Twitter account. It’s totally up to you.
4. Click “Post Comment.”

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask by emailing Anne at awilson@chapelrock.org.