My home is officially a budding sorority. Last week on Tuesday, my wife delivered our second daughter, Hope. Now, I’m outnumbered three-to-one. A friend recently told me I will either have to buy a truck or a male dog. Not sure about either of those, but a trip to Cabela’s may be on the horizon. Teenage boys hate dads who shop at Cabela’s.
As I have been playing with our older daughter, Bailey, I have realized how big she is. She is almost two years old, but compared to “Baby Hope” (her pet name for her new sister), she is a giant. She is getting older. She is growing in intelligence. She can carry on a conversation for almost a minute. As I have held Hope and watched Carly gently mother her in this first week, I realize that though she is my little peanut right now, she too will be big some day. I realize that one day she, like Bailey–and me with my parents–will not need me anymore.
More than these things, I have felt the weighty reality that both of these little girls will exist forever. Read that again: they will exist forever. That is the kind of truth you build your life and parenting around. Bailey and Hope, just like Carly and me, will either spend eternity in the glorious, blissful presence of God’s glory or in the horrific, terrifying presence of God’s wrath. There is no alternative.
When I meditate on this reality when I’m running back and forth across our apartment with Bailey for the forty-seventh time in the evening, or when I am holding Hope and soaking in the fountain of youth aroma that is newborn skin, I realize that Christ in the gospel is the only solution to parenting two precious souls who will exist forever. The gospel both profoundly humbles and motivates me. I am humbled because I am enlightened to the fact that only God’s grace will save these girls. Only he can draw them to his Son and make them treasure him. If it were not for grace, I would have no life or love for Jesus. So, like me, my girls need a lot of grace. I am humbled because even the best parenting strategy will prove naught if God’s grace is not working. At the same time, I am motivated because while God is the one who draws, he uses sinful, frail instruments like daddies and mommies to accomplish his glorious purposes in children. The good news of the gospel is that salvation is by grace through faith. I am saved by faith, but the faith that saves is never alone. Because I am saved by faith not by works, I am now free to work hard because my failures cannot crush me. Through the gospel, I am also empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God the Father–Parent par excellence–now lives in me. Incredible.
This tension keeps me from worrying about my daughters’ eternal destiny, but it also keeps me from being a lazy dad. It’s a tight rope to walk, but a fun and exciting one. By no means do I walk it perfectly; that’s why I need the grace of Jesus.
Bailey and Hope: I love you both and there’s nothing you can do to make me love you any more or any less. May God pour his saving grace on you both, and, in me, may you see a man who is motivated by grace to be a simple instrument in the Redeemer’s hands to show you how much you really needs his grace.