One of my favorite things to read in the Bible is all the name changes. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel. Simon (Simon Peter) became Peter. My favorite thing about these name changes is how God looked at each individual and saw something that individual wasn't but would become. For example, Abram, a childless man, became Abraham, the father of many.
Individuals with name changes weren't the only ones that God saw the potential of who they'd become. What about Moses when God called him to lead His people out of Egypt? Moses wasn't a fan of public speaking and also didn't seem to be a real fan of confronting Pharoah. What about Gideon? Gideon was called a mighty man of valor when he was threshing wheat in secret.
Read Matthew 16:13-20
There's a lot of debate on what this verse actually means, but I what I want to point out is that Jesus changes Peter's name. Simon, or Simon Peter, became Peter which means "Rock". Peter is a walking contradiction. He has faith enough to step out of a boat and walk on water, but He also has enough doubt that he takes it upon Himself to protect Jesus by chopping off a servant's ear. What was so incredible about that moment of doubt is that Jesus had spoke the words "I am He" and proved that He had the power to overcome this crowd as they flew back from Him. Yet, Peter didn't seem to agree that Jesus could take care of Himself.
Peter was also the disciple who protested against Jesus washing his feet. Peter was the one who would deny Jesus knowing Jesus three times. I mean, none of this sounds like someone whose name should be changed to mean "rock" does it? Does it sound like someone who'd end up leading, much less, starting the first church? Does he sound like the best representation of Jesus?
Yet, at the very beginning of Acts, after Jesus is crucified and resurrected, he completely transforms. He stood up in front of a large crowd and with the help of the Holy Spirit, preached a message on the day of Pentecost. You know what happened? 3,000 people were added to the very first church. 3,000! 3,000 people chose to follow Jesus! Peter went from being that one who denied knowing Jesus three times to eventually dying for Jesus' sake! What a complete transformation! What's even more, Peter became the person that Jesus saw on that day when his name was changed.
This makes me wonder something about my own parenting. What do I see when I look at my own kids? Do I see their potential? Do I imagine the person that they could become?
I might not be able to say with certainty that my kids will grow up to do (fill in the blank), but there is so much that I can call out. I can call out all of their attributes that point to God. I can call out their kindness. I can call out their patience. I can call out their love for those around them. I can look at them and imagine them as kind adults. I can look at them and imagine them as patient adults. I can look at them and imagine them as loving representatives of our God.
It's so easy, as a parent, to get lost in the distractions, the chaos, and the details of parenthood. It's easy to call out the less than stellar attributes that we might see in them today rather than the God-like attributes that we can imagine for tomorrow. Jesus didn't define humanity by the sin they were living in in the moment He met them. He defined each individual by what they'd become: redeemed representatives of God that He would call "friend."
Let's not define our children by their mistakes, but by the greatness we can imagine for them. Let's celebrate their God-like qualities, revel in their love and kindness, and encourage them to dive even further into their identity as a child of God!