Have you ever felt like you were a day late and a dollar short? I have said this about myself many times. Sometimes it was because I missed a huge sale at the local department store and sometimes it was because I was the last to find out about a sold-out show. Either way I have had my share of missed opportunities but none quite as disturbing as the one I had with my daughter Gabi. This opportunity I will never get back.
She was away at a Christian Camp one summer and this was one of the few I was not a staff member at. She was 9 years old and very spunky. I remember that week she had already had a few issues as she forgot to bring her fan (a rugged camp with no air-conditioning and 95degree temps) She also had lost her towels so I had been contacted by the camp twice to see if I could get her the supplies she needed. So when I received the third call from the camp I was sure she had either lost some other item or started a food fight in the mess hall. I answered the call and it was the camp dean. He told me Gabi had something to tell me. Well you can imagine where my mind went. I was thinking this must be really serious. It was!! Gabi picked up the phone and through tear filled words she told me, “Mom, I just accepted Jesus as my Lord”. Pause I was filled with completely mixed emotions. The first emotion was utter JOY that my daughter had made a decision to become a Christ follower. The second emotion was one of sadness because I was not there to share this moment with her. I wanted to be there when she accepted Jesus I even wanted to be the one to lead her to the Lord. I am her parent and it seems only right that I or her father should be her spiritual leader in these matters. But it wasn’t us it was, well……. a stranger.
Now please don’t misunderstand, I am so grateful to that stranger. They were there at the moment they needed to be and they led my sweet precious girl into the most important relationship she will ever have. But yet I am sad because it wasn’t me or her father.
So why wasn’t it us? Is it because we expected the church to be her spiritual leader? Is it because these matters are better left to the professionals? Or maybe it’s because we (if I ‘m being totally honest) were not engaging her in regular Christ-centered discussions at home? I think the answer is obvious. We were simply not being the parents God had called us to be. We did not spend much time in family prayer and we certainty didn’t do anything close to a family devotion and forget about family worship time. We missed this opportunity. BIG!!
Now please understand, I’m not saying that if you are not around when your child accepts Christ then you are a bad parent. Not at all! I’m saying that we simply missed the boat on this one. I wanted to teach her who Jesus is, but didn’t, I wanted to show her what it means to be a Christian, but didn’t. And I wanted to lead her into a relationship with Christ, but didn’t.
Like every experience in life I think there is a huge lesson here. As a children’s director, I believe I should make sure our programming offers intentional and consistent salvation messages as well as opportunities for children to accept Christ. But I don’t want any parent to ever feel like I did with Gabi. So I want to invite parents to join us every time we have an entire children’s service centered on salvation. Then we will give parents the opportunity to “close the deal” so to speak. God has given parents a charge, a mission. And it’s not to sit on the sidelines and watch the “experts” lead their children in matters of the Lord, but it’s rather for them to be the lead players in the game. Let’s work together so that these missed opportunities are a thing of the past.