Keeping Kids Afloat in the River

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.  — Hebrews 11:23  

And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink. —Exodus 2:2-3 


I learned a long time ago… 

You can’t take a couple of verses and make a parenting program or formula out of them. In fact, I don’t believe the Bible itself is a parenting formula, or even a formula for practical living. I just think it goes deeper than that, and formulas are kind of a surface treatment. Our problems run too deep.

I’ve watched a few programs that systematized a parenting approach, and over the years they began to disintegrate and  they cycled from miraculous cure for what ailed the family to being seen as evil that did more harm than good. I don’t think either view was ever true. The method was just flawed, and holes were bound to appear where there were blind spots before. There are always true principles that can be extracted. 

I used to want these verses about Moses to mean that my kids would be safe in the river, if the river is a picture of our culture, or even government laws. Now I know there are principles in the story. It’s not a program. 

I searched and searched when I was a young mother for a formula, only to find that it isn’t there. 

I like plugins – little programs I can turn loose and let them work their magic. If I could mechanize my life like that, though, I’d be a science geek in a horror movie, not a parent. 

Wherever there are programs for living, there are people telling others how to do life. Not really sure that’s what God intended, and I’m guessing that’s why these plugins we create have such bad results. 

The quicker we wake up to what God’s real program is, the better off we are. 

Formulas fail, whether we realize it or not. 

Maybe that’s really what a mid-life crisis is. I don’t know. All the things we wanted to be true – that we tried to set in motion – are only flawed systems, and they let us down. They have bugs that are set to self-destruct – just so we don’t get any ideas about ourselves.

If kids do one single thing for us, they blow everything we know and believe out of the water.  The minute we think we’ve got it all figured out, number 2 comes along and he needs a completely different approach. Whatever great formula we had some success with has to be thrown out, or reworked and modified. I am pretty sure kids are designed for the purpose of  making sure we don’t get too confident.

I’ve come to love the idea of principles way more than formulas. Principles aren’t things you can plugin to a situation. They’re things that guide our efforts, and give us better aim, but we still have to put in all the manual labor. There are a couple of great principles in this story about Moses. 

The first thing I notice is that THOSE TWO PARENTS looked at THAT baby boy and saw something. 

They knew something when they looked at him. We’re not told what it was. He was just “proper.” Some kids are born cool, and I guess Moses was one of those. 

Nothing – and I mean nothing at all – can substitute for being lead by God personally….which is why everything has to be based on principles found in scripture, prayer, and our personal relationship with God. 

If you can call that a formula, I guess that’s God’s formula for life.  

In order to understand why it works this way I had to go back to Genesis. 

That’s where we have the layout of God’s plan for us during our time here on earth. 

  • We were with Him in the garden. 
  • Then we sinned, and we weren’t with Him. 
  • We hid ourselves. 
  • God called our names 

… and there you have the big picture of what is happening in all of our lives continually.

God built into the consequences of the fall, in Genesis 3, specifics that would drive us back to Him. 

These consequences were different for man and woman because we are created differently, and different things drive each of us to desperation. In Genesis, his focus is the garden and the work God gave him. She was involved in that, but her focus was mostly him. 

So basically, there is work stress and relationship stress. Work stress is more likely to drive a guy to distraction, although family stress is also a huge deal. Relationship stress is more likely to drive a woman mad, although work is important to her, too. I just think this is another general principle, and there are always lines drawn differently in people’s lives. The point here is, there are certain things that hit us in our core and drive us to God in prayer.

It’s not so much the structure of life and relationships that is important. The thing is the purpose of it. 

The discussion about roles and gender will have to take place in another blog. That’s not the focus here.  God’s purpose is to draw us out of hiding and onto our knees, back with Him. He had to rig the system in order to bring about the best results. Genesis 3 gives us a clue that these two areas of life are primarily how it plays out in our lives.

What are the things that drive us to our knees? That’s why they’re there. 

God’s design: plant tension into the fabric of life so that we are driven to Him.

Our design: get relief and return to status quo, go back to not talking to Him. 

What Genesis 3 tells us is that there will be tension in those two areas in life – work issues, thorny things that come up, and family relationships. The good news is, if I say, “Yeah, that’s true for me,” then nothing is really wrong with my life. I just have to get myself to God in the process, and then stay there.  John 6:29 says, Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. 

Believing is the work.

It’s ALL about our relationship with Him, not our kids, or our family’s. He wants US to talk to Him about them. That is the program. That’s what all this trouble is about. 

That’s why I don’t believe there is a formula for raising children, or for work, or for anything else that might displace His direct relationship with us. 

With that understood, I can glean some things from this story about Moses, the baby who was gently placed into the river. 

Moses’ parents did hide him as long as they could.

They were right in doing that, but once they could no longer hide him, they themselves put him in the river, insulated by the ark they built, which was waterproofed for his survival. I don’t know what that means for each one of our kids, but we are probably gifted in certain ways to insulate them from the flood waters of the river. We can certainly fast and pray. 

Personally, I think the principle for this is given in Deuteronomy 6 where it says “talk to your children in the way.” 

I interpreted that to mean while I was driving I should talk to them. I determined to drive my kids everywhere I could, and the longer the drive, the better. I noticed that the rhythm of the road lulled them into a trance-like state and they just started talking. It was GREAT. Not every kid will do that, and not every time. I had some long, 12 hour journeys where nothing was said, but I didn’t mind. I was glad I got to be the one taking them where they needed to go. That was just me. 

The river was the State’s decree, and the culture of Egypt.

The river sent Moses directly into the heart of that culture to live his life and grow up in the center of it. 

That child had to go in the river to find the purpose of his life.

He couldn’t be protected from it forever, but the wisdom his parents had in staying nearby was pretty cool. The older sister was sent to watch, then she suggested that she find a nurse for the baby. Mom got to go hold him and spend time with him as he grew up in that royal court. He was learning the Egyptian ways and the Hebrew ways simultaneously. I think one of the mistakes we make is not teaching our kids the “Egyptian ways” alongside our ways, but that’s me again, and I wouldn’t make a formula out of it. Might be a good example of how it worked out Moses’ life, though. 

In the end, he knew the truth about God, and he made his choice — not without making some mistakes first, though. Also, it took Moses a long time to sort this all out. Why do we expect our kids to get spit out of our homes at 18 with everything figured out? 

I think this is an amazing picture of raising any child in this world, but especially for us when the river monster is threatening to swallow them. 

If you’ve found your way here to this blog, and this group, then this passage, in my mind, is one of the greatest encouragements to pray for your children. I believe we are right where God intended us to be when we do that, fulfilling His desire in our lives. The things He will show us about our kids and their lives will be amazing, and we will grow in our awe of Him and His ways, as we wait for His work, in His way, and in His time. 

This whole topic is one of the strongest encouragements to keep praying for our kids in this day and age that I can think of. In a way, they’re all baby Moses’ because of the work of the cross.

God has a sovereign plan for each one of their lives. 

Moses’ parents had incredible faith. What did they have faith in, though? They believed God had a plan for Moses. 

They believed God was sovereign and that nothing could stop His work, not even a decree from Pharaoh. 

It takes that kind of faith to prepare an ark, place your child in it, and trust God to carry it where He wants to take it. Where will our culture take our kids? 

For Moses, it was right inside the King’s house. He was the guy who issued the decree! 

God is amazing, and He will do amazing things in our kids. 

He wants to show us who they are, and He wants to talk to us about them. 

God bless your relationship with Him this Friday as you come out from hiding, find your purpose in talking to God about your children and where they’re headed. I pray God is doing miracles for each kid that might be affected by your prayers. The path might be fraught with error and seem dangerous, but let’s have faith that He is in control, that He has a plan, and that the enemy’s devices will only usher them where they need to be.

It’s our faith in God that keeps our kids afloat in the river. We must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. No matter what fearful thing is looming over your children this week, hang on to your faith that God has a plan. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *