In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… he (Jesus) has made him (God) known…John 1:1-18, parenthesis added
My kids discovered Google Earth a few years ago, and they still love to play with the zoom button. One second you are looking at a startlingly clear image of your house and street, and the next you can zoom out so far that your place in the world is nothing more than a minuscule dot on a view of the big, wide earth.
The first chapter of John opens with a radical zoom out, giving us an expansive and eternal perspective on the person of Jesus. It is no mistake that John invites us to start here. The more expansive our understanding of Jesus, the richer our understanding will be of his great love for us and for our kids.
Often my prayer as a parent involves me “inviting God in” to the circumstances of my life or my child’s life. While I believe God has endless patience for my misunderstanding, it is as though he says to me, “O child, zoom out!” Our hope is built on a love that is deeper, wider, and higher than we can possibly imagine (Eph. 3:19). Jesus offers me a peace that surpasses all understanding because of who he isand my place in his story, not his place in mine:
He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb. 1:3).
So, let us consider what it looks like to zoom out, both as parents and as people deeply in need of the love of Jesus.
As John reminds us, Jesus is both with God and is God from the beginning of all time. He created and sustains the world. Because he is the eternal Creator, he has dominion and authority over all life. All he has made has value and dignity. As those he has made in his image, we are the objects of a creative love, power, and affection that we cannot fathom.
He invites us to look up and behold him as the starting place for any and all circumstances. Consider these psalms:
I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth (Ps. 121: 1).
To you I lift my up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!… so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us (Ps. 123:1).
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Ps.124:8).
When we seek the Lord for help or mercy, Scripture directs us first to his identity as the maker of heaven and earth. The psalmist knows that authority belongs to the author, and we need to lift our eyes and widen our perspective to behold him first. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col. 1:17).
There is no circumstance as a parent where the invitation to “lift your eyes” is not the best possible starting point. Whether you are facing the routine trials of parenting or a devastating trauma or issue, starting with a zoomed-out perspective of Jesus is critical. There is nothing past, present, or future that is beyond his reach.
Look up, literally. As a purely practical side note, part of lifting our eyes to see Jesus, is, well, literally lifting our eyes. As simple as it may sound, put down your phone and physically engage your body with God’s world, asking Jesus to expand your vision of him both spiritually and physically through his creation. There is so much to be said about this, but remembering simply to behold him through creation will always bless you as a person and a parent.
Look at Yourself Anew
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… he has made him known.John 1:14,18
The more we behold the glory of Jesus, the more incredible it becomes to fathom that he “became flesh and dwelt among us.” Often I find myself separating the aspects of God—sometimes meditating on God as vast and eternal, and other times meditating on God as personal, loving and merciful. John invites us to see the vast creative perfection of God presenting itself in space and time in the humble form of a human Jesus.
He zooms so far out as if to say, now-zoom in close! This huge God made himself known by coming and living a perfect life on our behalf, dying the death we deserved, defeating sin and death on the cross so that we can know him now and for eternity. This is the vastness of God looking on us as his beloved!
It is important as a parent, to consider this truth first for myself. I need to know that Jesus loves me in this way. It is the proverbial “put your oxygen mask on first,” part of parenting. As a mom, I often skip this step. When my children were toddlers, I would be so focused on getting everyone fed and happy that I’d eat three edges of pb&js for lunch just to find myself a much less patient mom when my blood sugar tanked a couple hours later.
We often beg God to care for our children and we criticize ourselves for not being “good enough” parents, all because we have forgotten that God’s love for my child is also God’s love for me as a parent, as a person. Do not miss God’s steadfast love that is focused on you as a mom or a dad.
Take time to read and consider Psalm 139. He knew you outside of time, formed you in your own mother’s womb, and knows every hair on your head. You need to know every day that no matter what kind of parent you are or have been, God loves you. Full stop. He invites you to lift your eyes and behold him seeing you as the object of his love and affection.
Look at Your Child Anew
With this same truth in mind, consider how God loves your child. I tell my kids often that God loves them more than I do, and I think I believe it. But do I really stop to consider what this means?
Read Psalm 139 again with your child in mind. Jesus knows my child in a way I do not, loves them in a way I cannot, and cares for them in a way that is beyond my greatest hope. Jesus actually loves my child more than I do, and therefore, I can trust him with my child. If you doubt this, then zoom out again, lift your eyes to behold him who created heaven and earth and looks on your child with perfect vision, perfect perspective, and a perfect love.
Look at Your Circumstances
If all of the above is true, then it is also true that he is with me, for me, and in control of all that I find myself facing today. When you turn to your particular needs, remember the reality of who he is and who you are in him.
What does this mean for me and for my child? I can trust Jesus. I will be ok and so will my child if this (fill in your circumstance) doesn’t get any better today. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22).
I can rest in his love, regardless of what he calls me or my child to walk through. We know we will walk through things that are dark and painful, but not without hope. God gives us limitless stores of love and mercy in Jesus.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1: 4-5).
Prayer for a Struggling Child
After receiving an email about one of my children who is struggling, I wrote this prayer. May God give you the grace to lift your head and see him at work in your life today too.
Lord Jesus, you are maker of heaven and earth, perfect in all your ways. I lift my eyes to see the beauty of your created world. I lift my heart to reflect on the vastness of your love displayed in Jesus. I consider how you exist outside of time so that there is nothing that is unseen or scary to you. All things are held together by the word of your power.
Lord Jesus, I consider how you love me, how pleased you are to have made me the mother of my child, how you look on me with such affection and long to give me what I need to parent my child. Help me to depend on your unlimited stores of grace and mercy for myself and for him. Please forgive me when I forget this truth and draw me gently back.
Lord Jesus, I see my child, the object of your affection. You are not surprised, and your story is good for him. He is held secure in you. Your love and patience and goodness toward him will never run out. You are constantly at work to show him your love, and you are more pleased that he is yours than I can even imagine. This love does not change when he does not deserve it.
Lord Jesus, this circumstance seems unending, but I trust that you are at work. I will trust you when I am unsure how to handle it. I will trust you that I will be ok and so will my son. I trust you for wisdom and I know you will provide it. Help me to approach my child and this issue today out of a heart of love instead of fear, since it is not up to me to secure his life and his future.
O Lord, give our hearts courage to believe your truth for ourselves and for our children. May our hearts expand with a bigger understanding of you, and expand further still when we see that in the person of Jesus you concentrate your grace and love on us. Amen.
Did you know we now have a Parent Guide for walking with your children through our newest study, Knowing Jesus? If you purchase the Knowing Jesus bonus curriculum, you’ll be able to share these guides with all of your youth group’s parents. Families will be able to talk about the Scripture, the questions, and the main takeaways together at home. We also think this is a perfect study for your summer programming. Since each lesson pulls from different parts of the Bible, students who have missed a lesson from summer trips won’t fall behind, and can even go through their missed lessons at home as a family in their own time. It’s a flexible study, perfect for looping in families and introducing new believers and non-believers to Jesus. If you’ve already purchased this study, the parent guides are in your library. If you haven’t, go ahead and purchase today so you can study with the youth in your life, whether at church or at home.