Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Legacy of Dedication

Leslie Basham: At some point, every parent needs to hand over control of their children to God. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Woglemuth: “Lord, I give this child to You.” It’s not that you no longer love. It’s not that you no longer care. You certainly keep praying and loving and, as God opens doors, speaking truth into their lives. But you’re not doing it as an owner or as a controller or as one who can fix it. You’re saying, “Lord, this child is Yours.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place, for Friday, December 15, 2017.

Mary and Joseph dedicated Jesus at the temple as a newborn. It’s an incredible scene, as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us in a series called "My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation."

A group of women have been listening along, and they’re going to share something they’ve learned about dedicating their children to the Lord.

Woman 1: I don’t know if any of you have ever had a child who struggled all their life. Out of my four children, I’ve had one that from the get-go has really struggled with depression, even to the point of wanting to harm herself.

With children like that, I think it’s more difficult, in a way, to release, because something within the mother wants to feel like, “I can do it. One more book. One more message. One more prayer. One more talk.” But that’s not the answer.

I had to come to the point eight years ago of deciding, I’m not releasing my child just “out there.” I’m releasing my child into the arms of the Lord. Do I believe that God is so perfect and so loving and will do the best for me and for my child? I had to come to that, to say, “Yes, I do.”

One day that summer I was lying in my hammock all day long; it was on a Saturday. My daughter had struggled, really in high school and even in college. She had gotten into drugs, and we had to pull her out of college for a year and put her into rehab. After that she just kept fighting herself and God and had a lot of anger. She was angry with us and angry with God.

One day I just lay there and read Scripture all day long. I prayed all day long. Finally, at the end of that afternoon, I came to the point of saying, “Lord, I really am going to give her to You, even if the worst would happen—even if she would take her life. I believe that You are so perfect, and You are sovereign, and You would bring good out of this. Most of all, I know that I would love You if that happened because I know You love me and You love her.”

That was a real turning point for me, because after that . . . it wasn’t that things were great. I mean, she really has given her life in a new way and is doing well right now. But it was more just the fact that it was, who do I believe God to be? “Are You trustworthy?” At that point I felt a freedom and a relief—not the feeling that I had to be the one to solve this or to be responsible for her life from then on. So it really transformed me is what it did.

Woman 2: I was the daughter that "you were" praying for. When my husband and I first married eighteen-and-a-half years ago, we were not believers. We were living together. My parents did not agree [with that choice]. My mom had been praying my whole life that I would marry a godly man, but I was living life in sin that she was totally against. They would call and tell me I was headed for hell, which was true; I didn’t believe it at the time.

We married, then, without my parents knowing, which really hurt them; but all through that, my mother never stopped praying. She never stopped caring. She never stopped showing love and never was overbearing with the way she did demonstrate it to me.

As a result, my husband and I became believers two years later and at the same time! Our life has drastically turned around. My parents and I are best friends. My husband is best friends with his mother-in-law. We renewed our wedding vows with my parents there, and we wrote a letter of gratefulness to them, thanking them for their love, their prayers, how they truly exemplified Christ in their lives, that we clearly saw that God truly turned us around.

I just want to tell you that for encouragement—all it took was prayer, nothing else. I was also the depressed daughter. I did hurt myself and did some pretty horrible things. God has clearly turned that around. I had parents who never stopped being by my side.

There were a couple times my husband wouldn’t leave me by myself even if it was just an hour in the house. My parents were at the door without even being asked. I’m truly grateful, and God has drastically turned that around in my life, for which I’m very grateful. I just wanted to give you a little encouragement, being on the other side of what you’re praying for.

I know that God is good; and it did take a while before my parents saw the fruits of all their prayers.

Nancy: What an encouragement and a reminder that is to parents, not to grow weary in well doing but to continue presenting your children to the Lord and trusting that God is at work even when you can’t see, when you don’t know what He’s doing. God is able, even when you’re not physically there, to be working in those children’s lives in accordance with the way you have presented them to Him.

You’re praying. You’ve dedicated them to Him, and you’re saying, “Lord, You have to do this.” Then you’ve got to trust that God is at work and that God is moving by His Spirit to accomplish His purposes in the lives of your children.

Dorothy: I have given my kids to the Lord, of course when I was young. When you hurt it’s hard to remember; but even if it happens after I die, God is able to do that.

But I was just thinking of Mary, when she gave Jesus up there and dedicated Him there in the temple. She never really, until the resurrection, saw anything but the evil in the life of her Son, the horrible things that were happening to Him.

So there’s a lesson in that, to say, There is a sword in motherhood. Sometimes we forget that. Unless God calls any of us, none of us are saved. And He can do that especially when we pray.

Nancy: I think that’s an important reminder you just gave. When you dedicate your children to the Lord, you are releasing or relinquishing the right to be the Holy Spirit in the lives of your children.

That doesn’t mean you don’t ever speak to them or you don’t say things, but it means that you don’t say everything you want to say or that you might think. You’re willing to step back, to stand back and let God say to them things that they will hear better from Him, perhaps, than they will hear from you.

So part of dedicating them to the Lord is taking your hands off at points. By this I’m not suggesting permissive parenting—“Just let God raise these kids.” You need to be take an active, involved part.

But there comes a point when you’ve got . . . a fifty-year-old would probably be about at that time, if not sooner . . . that you cannot be continually saying or talking to that person like a five-year-old. And even with your five-year-old, it’s got to be God who turns on the light, God who causes it to click, the grace of God that calls and draws, whatever age they are.

It does require faith when you dedicate your children to God. This is not just a warm, fuzzy, nice little ceremony. This is serious stuff. You are saying, “I am going to let God be God in this child’s life, and I’m going to trust God to be at work even when I can’t see and there’s not anything I can say to control the situation or to change it.”

Maria: I felt like you needed to open the prayer room this morning like you do at the Revive Our Hearts conferences. There were two things. One, when we had our first two children, we were not walking with the Lord or in church. The Lord reminded me that we had never dedicated them to the Lord and really released those older kids. They’re in their thirties now.

With the younger ones, we were walking with the Lord; and I remember very clearly, when they came home to us at ages five and seven, the pastor and my husband lifting these children on their arms to the Lord and dedicating them.

So that was such an eye-opener to me this morning. One of these older kids just told me very, very recently that they feel God is leading them to the mission field, probably out of the country, with a bunch of my grandchildren. I’ve had just the hardest time! I haven’t said everything I was thinking, but inside it’s just been awful.

You were talking about releasing the child to God for His purposes, and that in releasing them it relieves me of the fear of what may happen. I honestly feel like the Lord was doing that in my heart this morning.

That was such a revelation to me. That’s why I’ve had so much trouble with this news. They’re asking us to pray for God’s will to be done, but I’ve not been able to do that because I don’t want them to go. I don’t want those grandkids to go. I’m being honest.

The second is ending up with Luke 2:29. It says, “Lord, you are now letting thy servant depart in peace, according to your word.” It’s not just depart in death. For me, I think it’s depart to live; to depart in peace knowing that I’m not responsible for either of these kids at this point except to pray for them and trust God, like Kim said. So thank you. Thank you.

Nancy: I’m glad you said that, because I had intended to say in that session, and it slipped my mind. I’m sure we have many listeners who weren’t even thinking about dedicating their children to the Lord, maybe had no idea of what that meant or weren’t in a church setting where that was a practice.

It’s not ever too late to dedicate your children to the Lord. They may be making choices that you cannot change or control or fix at this point. But you, in your heart, can still—I don’t care if they’re five, fifteen, twenty-five, or fifty-five—you can come to that point of saying, “Lord, I present this child to You. I dedicate this child to You. I release this child to You, recognizing that this child is not mine. He/She is Yours. They are a loan from You. I cannot hold onto them, whether that means they are going to the mission field or it means they’re doing drugs.”

In both cases there’s a release. You see your grown child involved in an illicit sexual relationship, and that breaks a mother’s heart. Any of those—some are good and some are bad things, but they can break a mother’s heart. You have to come to the place where you take your hands off, where you say, “Lord, I give this child to You.”

It’s not that you no longer love. It’s not that you no longer care. You certainly keep praying and loving and, as God opens doors, speaking truth into their lives. But you’re not doing it as an owner or as a controller or as one who can fix it. You’re saying, “Lord, this child is Yours. You deal with him/her.”

I want to suggest you do that before you get in trouble with your kids, or before your kids get in trouble. But then you’ve got to keep doing it and keep recognizing that this child is still given over to the Lord. Because isn’t it easy, as a mother, to take the child back, to say, “I dedicated this child to the Lord, but now this child wants to go across the world as a missionary” or as something else, and now you want to take this child back?

It’s mother’s instinct to gather her children around and try to protect them from life. That’s part of a mother’s heart. That’s part of why Mary’s heart as a mother is the sort of motherhood that Dorothy talked about, and we’ll talk about that later in this series—about the sword that pierces the soul of a mother, and how you have to keep presenting those children to the Lord when your instinct is to pull them back, to take back control.

“Lord, I already gave that child to You when he was six weeks old, but now he’s sixteen and this looks a whole lot different.” No, that dedication at six weeks is one that is still in effect today. It means you must still be presenting that child to the Lord, letting the Lord be God over that child.

And that does release you from fear. It puts responsibility on you, but it also releases you from taking responsibility that’s God’s. You’re not responsible for what only God can do in your child’s life. That means you don’t have to beat yourself up when your child makes wrong choices.

Now, if your child is making wrong choices because they saw you make ungodly choices, and you put those seeds in their life, then you need to repent. You need to seek forgiveness from the Lord, seek forgiveness from your children.

But once you get past that, if you have obeyed the Lord to the level of your understanding and repented of where you didn’t [obey], then you have got to leave with God the consequences and the outcome, and trust God to move in your children’s hearts.

Listen, I want to tell you: You can be (relatively speaking) an awesome mother who loves God, loves your children, parents by the book—the Book being the Word of God—and still have children who choose to reject or resist the ways of God for a period of time, and maybe for a long period of time.

You cannot take responsibility on you that belongs to the Holy Spirit. That’s part of dedicating and releasing your children to God. At points that may mean that you see your children, at a certain age or in certain areas, making choices that you know are very unwise; and at points it may be that you don’t pursue after them, that you don’t speak.

I want to be careful about that, because I think there are times when parents ought to speak but they don’t. I said to a friend this week, I’m amazed at how often kids get married out of the will of God, and it ends up in disaster, and you ask them later, “Did your parents ever tell you they had reservations about this?”

“Well, no.”

You ask the parents, “Did you ever say . . .”

“No, I didn’t want to turn her off. I didn’t want to . . .”

There are some issues in life that, if you see your child getting ready to do something you know is going to have serious or dangerous consequences, you ask God for an opportunity to speak the truth. But you may need to speak it and then take your hands off and realize that you cannot keep them from marrying that person or from making that choice.

That’s when you get on your knees. You tell the Lord; you cry out to the Lord. You say, “Lord, I have given this child to You.” You pray with your husband, together. I think there’s power in unified, united prayer between couples for their children. Don’t let this be just you. Ask your husband, “Can we pray together?”

Some parents I know fast and pray on a regular basis for their children, not because they’re trying to control their children but because it’s an expression of their saying, “Lord, these children belong to You, so we are appealing to You to do what only You can do in the life of this child.”

Kimberly: Something that helps women to do that . . . because, as you mentioned, the mother’s heart is, "I want to 'gather in' my children. I want to protect them from the pain of the world and from the suffering and sorrow that maybe they’re even bringing on themselves. I want to protect them."

I’m learning that the way we’re able to truly release them is by getting to know God better—to trust in Him more, to know who He is. So I would urge the woman who’s struggling with taking her child back and trying to fix it, to really study who God is. Study how powerful He is, how faithful He is, that He is the Deliverer, that He is the King of old working out salvation in the earth—getting to know who He is and taking the focus off of all of the pain and difficulty that they’re watching their child go through.

Not that you become hardened to that at all. You pray for them more fervently. But your focus is on what God can do because of who He is.

And it’s hard. His heart desires to do—He is the One who releases the captives. That is His desire. And knowing that He desires to see your child brought to freedom from bondage in an even deeper and greater way than you do, and His pain and suffering for them, watching them walk through the consequences of their wrong choices—that pain is deeper even than the mother’s pain.

Nancy: That’s really what Calvary is about. That’s what the cross is about. That is God taking on Himself the pain that you feel as a mother for the consequences of sin in your children’s lives, and God taking on your pain as a mother and giving you the grace to deal with that pain.

Anyone else?

Woman 3: I want to take just a minute to give praise to God for a long story with my son, a lot of mess. There’s a lot of mess in my son’s life, but I’m here to say that just a month or two ago, he stood in front of his church and dedicated his baby to the Lord. I felt like that was full circle—that he had gone from being so rebellious to coming to this place of being willing to say to God, “Here’s my baby. I want to raise her for You.”

That was just glorious for me, much more so than for him even, because I could see God behind the scenes, the way He had worked that all out. So I just want to testify to God’s faithfulness in bringing my son full circle.

Maria: Later, after we were walking with the Lord, God put it on our hearts to adopt children, and our birth kids were twelve and fourteen when we started the process. All we knew was that God would show us who they were. We didn’t know how many, what color, what physical condition, anything.

You go in to a social worker with that kind of list, and it’s really amazing to me that they even let us continue the process, simply saying that “God will show us who they are.” It took a year and a half.

One day I went in, and these two little pictures, just little wallet-sized pictures, were clipped on a folder that I saw upside down. Instantly tears popped in my eyes, and I said, “It’s my kids!” The social worker said, “No, no, Maria. This family is adopting these children. They’ve been in this foster home two years. This is just their final home study I have to do.”

I just said, “I don’t care what you say. Those are my children.” That was in March. I said, “Do you have any extra pictures?” (They always do.) I took them home and just tried to casually lay them on the counter, like I had numerous times over this period of time, to show to my husband.

He took one look at those pictures and said, “It’s our kids!” Same thing I had said.

I said, “Well, the social worker says this other family is going to adopt them, but we’ve got to pray, now!” And we and everyone we knew started praying for those children.

At the end of May, this social worker called me and said, “Do you want to come meet your children tomorrow?” She said that a relative of the foster family had gone to her and said, “There are things going on in that home that ought not to be going on.” And in a week’s time my kids were home. It’s been almost twenty years now.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with some moms about the emotional process of raising children and releasing them into God’s hands. I hope the examples we heard today are helpful to you.

We’re so thankful Revive Our Hearts is affecting women like these. But, Nancy, I’m also excited to think about the next generation being influenced by these moms.

Nancy: Oh, Leslie, it really does give me such joy to think of the potential of the baton of faith being passed on to the next generation. This is not just for those who have children. It's a huge responsibility that all of us as women of God have for those who come behind us. 

As you know, there’s so much confusion in our culture over what it means to be a woman. I think this is a time when all of us, younger and older, need to look to the pages of Scripture to gain our understanding of femininity.

That’s why I’m so excited about one of the really important outreach of Revive Our Hearts called LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com

Without a lot of fanfare, that daily blog has been steadily gaining a large, committed following over the past several. Young women and teens are pouring out their hearts and are getting really honest about the issues they’re facing. 

I'm thankful for our team of bloggers who provide thought-provoking, biblical content packed in a way that young women can grasp. Day after day our team is responding to some really tough situations that these readers are facing, and in response are offering truth that is setting younger women free.

When you see growth like that, you have to say, it looks like God is up to something. Well I believe He is. We want to join Him and see that movement among young women accelerate.

In fact, in February, we’ll be releasing a newly revised version of the book Lies Young Women Believe. But we can't pursue these goals in publishing and the web by ourselves. We need your help as we see to expand the ministry of Revive Our Hearts to teens and young women.

Here's how can you help this month. Some friends of the ministry are doubling every gift given this month up to a special challenge amount of $800,000. Meeting this challenge will help us keep current outreaches thriving in the year ahead. As we are able to not only meet that goal but surpass it, it will help us expand outreaches such as the one to young women on that blog.

So if you have a heart to see women of every age—younger women, older women, women in different parts of the world—experience freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ, would you pray about helping us to meet this matching challenge? Every gift, small or large, will help us get to that goal. And remember, every gift given this month will be matched dollar for dollar up to that challenge amount.

You can send your gift by calling us at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation there.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Have you ever known someone who knew just what to say to make you feel better when you were emotionally low? The gift of consolation is rare. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the greatest act of consolation ever. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to walk with you in God's Word. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. 

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