Equipping Our Children

by Jamie Bonnema

If I had written about a chapter of my life, specifically of the past year and a half, I would have begun the chapter by describing how challenging life has become. As this chapter drags on, I would say life is no longer a challenge—it is an intense battle. I think we can all agree that we long for a new chapter to begin soon. Hopefully, this part of the story is similar to stepping out of the desert, leaving behind slavery, plagues, and hearts that wander aimlessly away from God. Life lately has become about reflection, and part of looking further inside involves my responsibility and privilege as a parent.

Our parenting has always been about raising our kids to be good stewards of what God has given and helping them find their identity in Christ. All of this, plus keeping them alive and healthy, seems like an enormous undertaking that can break at any point. Our family depends on God’s grace every moment.

But as this past year and a half has progressed, my heart has been crushed a few times with the pain of life events, with fear riding alongside threatening the possibility of life changing in ways that I don’t want it to.

Yet in my struggle with uncertainty, God has been faithful, and has showed up in ways that I still cannot piece together. But well before the current rioting and destruction of our country, well before the latest virus scare, I felt life just change. And as time has passed, the weight of the world seems overwhelming, and I feel a new burden that I haven’t felt before.

I feel the strain of shielding my kids from the ugliness of a fallen world while also trying to prepare them to be able to stand strong in it as they grow.

I feel God disappearing from hearts. I feel Christians slip from convictions. I sense the compromise of God’s truth–a majestic painting has been replaced with an ugly chaotic and confusing picture which hardly anyone can make sense of. My hope, at times, looks more like a cry to The Almighty, as I wonder where my next step is landing–closer to battle or closer to a break from the war.

I often wonder if my parents felt this way. Did they see the world continuing to turn from God and feel the same weight I feel? Did they question how much worse things could get and fear for my future?

My heart was growing tired, sad, and heavy. More time has been spent in prayer than usual, as well as listening and searching for answers. I have grieved for the lost and sobbed for our current circumstances. I have been angry for the lies and deception we are all facing, which threaten our relationships, our decisions, and even our own integrity.  And when I do not think my heart can take any more, I pray for God to give me one task–one normal thing to do as a break from it all. He gives me that and more.

He shows me the lush green trees, the thick wet grass, the beautiful bright flowers in my yard, and the big blue sky decorated with contrasting white clouds. He gives me the birds for my ears to enjoy, the sounds of the crickets in the summer night, the innocent laughter of my kids playing, and the feeling of being alive when the humidity just hangs in the air. The smell of grass, the fragrance of the lilacs, and the subtle scent from the tree bark all calm me and remind me Who created it all.

He reminds me of His goodness in the hope I see in others, in the love and loyalty of friends, in the encouragement of a stranger, and in the praise of a colleague. God shows me that His words, that He breathed into the Bible, are true–before my life began. While I live out every day, His Word will stand for all of eternity–no matter what happens.

The unjust will be brought to justice. The deceiver will be judged by truth. Every tear will be wiped away, every knee will bow, and everyone will know what we have all been shown:

Our God is the only one on the throne and no amount of grasp for this position will ever come to fruition. The godless will be separated from God forever, and the faithful will enjoy an eternity with Christ. Understanding this final and eternal truth is what gets me through every single day, in the midst of the current level of turmoil.

I am not in despair for today. My sight is on eternity and equipping and building up my family to be of steadfast faith, in order to be able to endure whatever challenges lie in between.

My hope is that we encourage each other as parents, to continually focus and prioritize our time with arming our kids with the spiritual armor they need for battle. They may face more than we are currently facing. They may need sharper swords and indestructible armor that is constantly tested. In a time that truth is so hard to discern, our kids’ belts of truth cannot fail them!

If you are feeling the burden of pain, sting of tears, and the nagging of frustration and weariness, let us not forget that we have a God big enough to take it all and return blessings that we cannot humanly imagine. Let us trade it all in at the foot of the cross for the strongest armor the enemy has ever known. As we humbly struggle, let us show others that we serve a God who is mightier than the evil we see around us. We do not place our hope in people or things of this world to solve our problems. Instead we let our hope speak boldly of the certainty of our salvation and God’s goodness for all of eternity. Let us also show the world who Christ is by the kids we raise, as soldiers of Christ, untouchable in their knowledge of truth, extinguishing the flaming missiles of the evil one, living lives of righteousness, and being ready to take the gospel wherever their feet may travel.

Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:13-17

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. Psalm 112:6-8

If you would like to learn more about recognizing spiritual warfare and how to arm yourself, I recommend reading Lord is it Warfare? Teach Me to Stand by Kay Arthur.

Jamie Bonnema is a former youth treatment counselor of residential care, education, and wilderness programs. She is a married mother of four children, works from home with a nutrigenomics company, enjoys working with GCA in various roles, and loves outdoor recreation.