Sometimes I wonder if there is a secret to parenting- one that I am missing. You know? “The secret!” Like, the secret to patience during three year old temper tantrums OR the secret to endurance when I have to change the sheets on my daughter’s bed 3 times in 2 days due to accidents at nap time, all while 38 weeks pregnant OR the secret to getting her to eat her dinner without playing with it for 35 minutes first. Then there are the more serious secrets: like the secret to passing on our faith as parents and raising our children to love Jesus and find their identity in him before this world slaps one on them.
I am not a complete fool, I know that my children will not be perfect and that they will make mistakes and poor choices, they will fail at times, and they will get hurt and face challenges in life. I know I cannot protect them from all bad things and that pain is unavoidable. I also know one thing to be true: I am not in control of any of it. I am not really in charge. In my house I might be (or at least create the illusion that I am). It might be up to me if Adeline gets dessert after dinner, or my call if she goes to the park or not, and my decisions might include which preschool she attends, what outfit she wears, or what she takes to school for lunch each day. But when it comes to the adult she will grow up to be and the painful choices she will make in life — that is out of my hands.
I am just glad that since it can’t be under my control, it is under God’s. God knows the secret to parenting. He knows the secret to everything we do. Actually, His Kingdom is full of secrets, and secrets he wants to share.
What is the secret of the kingdom of God? According to one of the most famous parables Jesus ever told, The Parable of the Sower, it is the Word of God. He tells his disciples “the knowledge of the secrets of the the kingdom of God has been give to you.” Remember the sower scatters the seeds, or the secrets. The seeds land in 4 different places: the path, on rocky ground, in the thorns, and on good soil. Each landing place represents a heart, the way we receive God’s Word. How the secret is revealed to each one of us. If we get “it” or not.
Now let’s be honest, none of us can ever claim good soil 100% of the time! That would be impossible. I admit that I do not always read and immediately understand Scripture. I confess, there are still verses or teachings I have to wrestle with and pray through – it is not immediate. Sometimes, at first, I read Scripture through the lens of my culture that influences me. Or other times I am blinded by my own circumstances and do not get it upon a first reading. Even still, at times I am challenged by obstacles that deter my heart from really being open to God’s Word. In weak moments I have even turned away from certain parts of the Word because it is not convenient or comfortable.
But the good soil represents the heart that receives the Word, gets it, lets it sink in, and then shares it with others so they too can get it, and be changed by it. It is the heart that changed by God’s Word gets one very important truth: everything I need to know is right here because it is here where I meet and see exactly who Jesus is.
But if the secrets of the kingdom of God are found in the Scriptures, if the secret is the Word of God then what does that mean to us? It means that God reveals the greatest secret to us, His Word, His Son! How? In relationship with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that helps us understand God through His Word, it is the Spirit that reveals Jesus as God’s son and leads us to relationship with Him. This is why it was so hard for the disciples to understand much of what Jesus said during his ministry. It was based on their own efforts to grasp what he was saying. The Spirit had not yet been given. For us it is different because we don’t have to go at it on our own — even though too often we probably attempt to anyway.
We have this amazing gift of grace, the Holy Spirit. We need this gift, to get it. To know it. To understand it. To uncover the secrets.
When I think about the “secret” to parenting it seems illusive. Probably because it is, in the sense that ONE does not exist. By this I mean there is no one way to parent our children. There is no secret to make our kids turn out exactly the way we hope they will. And there is no magic wand that provides patience and endurance. Instead we learn as we go: how to be more patient, how to endure, how to make better decisions, what battles to fight and which ones to let go of, what is minor and what really matters. The secret revealed in parenting is different for each one of us and takes time to learn.
But there is a secret we can get! One we can use in parenting. One we can pass on to our children. The secrets of the kingdom, the secret to the seeds that are sown by the sower. The secret is this: Jesus actually promises us that they will not be secrets forever. Later in Luke after he tells the parable of the sower and explains the meaning he talks about the light of a lamp and how it cannot be hidden. It is meant to shine, to be seen, to be revealed. He announces to his disciples, ” For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”
Jesus promises us the secrets to the kingdom come in knowing the Word of God. Christ unveils the secrets that are concealed without him, as the Spirit helps us to see that, to understand what Christ is saying, who he is, and what he has done for us. All wisdom, understanding, acceptance, and transformation comes from the Spirit when our eyes are opened to see that the secrets are no longer secrets – and instead we see Jesus. There is no greater secret ever unveiled!