Hiking a mountain with my family is about as good as it gets. Following a trail head in Israel with my family would be the granddaddy of all memories. I love experiencing God’s creative brush strokes in the wilderness, and to have a few moments to enjoy these with my family is heaven on earth for this city boy.
As I was studying and preparing to preach Psalm 23 on Sunday, pictures of hiking a mountain in Colorado with my family kept coming to mind. We reached some fabulous heights, but not without effort. There were deep valleys and steep trails up the side of each place we hiked. We had to have the proper gear, food and water to meet our basic needs. If we did not, our journey to the top would have ended with disappointment.
Psalm 23:1 says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” David then spends the next few verses unpacking all that is provided through Jesus as my great Shepherd. Jesus made this abundantly clear in John 10:9 – 11. He is the good Shepherd and will abundantly provide for those who are willing to accept Him as Lord and Savior. He really does provide all we need. Total contentment. Total satisfaction. All I, or anyone, could ever need is found in Him.
This powerful message not only led me to think about my basic needs of life, but the children I have had the privilege to raise in my home. As a parent, it is my primary responsibility to help my children follow Jesus. God has placed on me as a father and spiritual leader of my home, the joy of creating a grace-based atmosphere that addresses the inner needs found in each of my children. Why? Because as I address these needs, along with my wife, it will ultimately pave the way for my children to have them met by Jesus, the good Shepherd.
These needs are not unique to my kids, they are found in your kids and every person born. But, before I describe these inner need, a word of warning is in order. Because these needs are hardwired into all of us, there is someone who knows each and every need we have. It may come as a surprise to you when I tell you who it is. His name is Satan. He knows our needs and he has made it his goal to help us find ways to meet these needs in an illegitimate way. If a child, student or adult walks down this path, they will never find satisfaction and will always search for more.
However, we have a heavenly Father who knows the needs of a child, grandchild and every person that ever lived. His goal is to be our Shepherd and help us find our needs met in Him. It is our responsibility as parents and grandparents to create a grace-based atmosphere in our homes so that these needs are addressed and ultimately met in Jesus, our good Shepherd.
Over the next three weeks, I want to share with you three inner needs (as stated by Dr. Tim Kimmel) that every child is born with. Yes they must be met by mom and dad, but ultimately they can only be met by Jesus. Let’s look at the first one today.
Inner Need Number 1 – Every child has an inner need for security
Every child is born with this need. They come out of the womb this way. Once they are born, they get the deluxe power wash, a personal blanket wrapped around them so they look like a human burrito, and then are placed into mom or dad’s arms. Why? Because they need to feel secure. They just had the longest, most traumatic journey of their little short life and it caused a lot of confusion. All they want right now is for someone to hold them close and assure them life will be ok because someone loves them.
Love brings security. A child raised in a grace-based home will first find acceptance for who they are and how God wired them. A loving mom and dad will seek to communicate that this new child of theirs is loved “as is.” Regardless of IQ, body type, hair color, or personality, this child is secure with a mom and dad who have accepted them as a precious gift from the Father above. Those unique personality profiles that all kids have are just the splashes of color and humor that keeps us parents from getting too serious in life. Instead of looking at these characteristics from a negative angle, try a positive approach that sees uniqueness as God’s special way of helping your child offer a unique contribution to the world they joined.
Second, a child needs to be affiliated with a loving home. The word honor is important with this one. Family members, even those that are separated by divorce, need to honor one another. Even in the most tragic situations of separation and divorce or even the death of a spouse, children need the security of knowing that the people who live with them honor one another, even when walls, streets and states separate. When forgiveness is granted and words of honor and kindness are spoken in a home, children feel secure (shhh!… so do the rest of us). But, when people are constantly tearing one another down and criticizing others in the home, then a child fears their world may come crashing down. They will quickly seek to find another group to affiliate with. These “groups” are always a poor substitute for a loving home.
Third, the need for security in a child or anyone is met with generous amounts of affection. There is a God created “wire” from a person’s skin to their heart. We are hardwired for affection. Meaningful touch for boys and girls is absolutely critical. Even those of us who may be spatially challenged by those who “invade our personal space” need this.
Now ultimately, this need is met in Jesus Christ. Our security is found in Him as Savior and Lord. The Lord cannot be your Shepherd until the Shepherd is your Lord. As mom and dad seek to address this inner need of security, though imperfect at times, they pave the way for a child to find Jesus as their Shepherd. Once we know Him, His goodness and mercy or loyal love will follow us all the days of our lives (Psalm 23:6). He will never stop loving us and that gives your child and you as the parent security.
Let’s put it into practice:
• How are you practicing each of the three areas mentioned above so that you are addressing the inner need for security for each of your children?
• Where are you strong and where do you need improvement?
• What practical steps can you take today to meet this inner need in your children?
Find more information at www.familymatters.org, read “Grace-Based Parenting” by Dr. Tim Kimmel, and/or sign up for our next Grace-Based Parenting group (coming fall 2017, watch for details).
– Roy Fruits, Senior Pastor