I read a book this week – a memoir from a woman who had experienced amazing things. Her story from beginning to end was filled with encounters with God. But it was strange. This woman knew her life was being turned upside down by the miraculous, but she never quite recognized the source. She never quite got it.
At one point – the point she herself recognized as the most significant – the woman received a vision. She found herself at the feet of a man. She couldn’t see his face, but he wore a robe and his feet were bare, and the man’s voice exuded intense love that rocked her world and changed her life. The woman called the vision Love, but she never gave the man a name, and I was baffled.
Often because of my role in ministry, and my role as a mom, I’m asked to give tips about parenting. What works, what doesn’t. What’s most important. And here’s what I typically say. The most important thing to teach a child is how to recognize the voice of Jesus.
It’s the only foolproof way. Our job as parents is fleeting, no matter what season we’re in. Our influence is like the grass, here today, and gone tomorrow. And there’s only one thing we can really pass on that lasts forever.
I don’t want them to miss it. I don’t want my kids to go out in the world, immersed in a sea of voices, but clueless about the one voice that matters. The other voices are loud, I know, and there’s little we can do to shut them out. But even in a noisy crowd one familiar voice can whisper close. The voice we know and love the best stands out and all the other voices fade away. And I want my kids to know. That.
I don’t want my boys to encounter Jesus but mistake him for something else. Jesus is a person and personal. He made us. He knows us. He speaks to us uniquely. His voice sounds like beauty and music and wonder and words. He’s creative and mystery and his Spirit dances and plays. And we can know his voice.
I am a mom, and my boys know MY voice, too. Sometimes my voice is loud, too loud. I have so much to say, and so little time to say it. I think it’s my job to tell them. But are my words more important than his? No. I must decrease, that he might increase. It’s his voice I want them to hear. I’m reminding myself.
They’re quickly becoming men. Boys in my heart, but men in reality, and life is changing fast. Too fast. The decisions they’re making will matter forever and I have to know. They’re listening. They hear it. His voice. Above mine and all the rest.
I can sleep at night knowing this. The voice leading my boys is the one voice I want them to follow.
His sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10:4).