Praying for Soil
by Ann Higginbottom
"One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in His temple.
After dinner, we sat across the table from him, waiting to hear his reply. Our question lingered in the air, and I couldn't wait to hear what he might say. John had been an important figure in Robby's life since Robby’s time at Duke University. During those four years, John and Robby would meet regularly. They talked about the Lord and life and how to become a man who served God’s purposes. What a picture of discipleship!
John and Robby have remained great friends. John’s visits to Dallas are regular, as are his waves of encouragement through calls and emails. So our dinner together was nothing out of the ordinary. Yet this time, we had some fun news to share: a baby boy would join our family that summer. As the evening drew to a close, Robby looked at John and simply asked, "What advice would you give as we begin this journey of parenthood?"
John sat still for a moment and then began to speak. His response caught me off guard. "It is impossible to raise godly children," he said calmly. Gulp. I started to panic. What? What do you mean I can't raise godly children? Isn't that what good Christian parents should do? And you're telling me that’s impossible? Then what's the point—why have children at all if you can't control the most important thing in their lives?
My thoughts scattered in a million directions, but I tried to remain focused. Thankfully, John didn't leave us hanging for long. He continued, “If a person is going to be born again, the Lord has to do the work. It is completely out of our control. Only the Lord our God can change a heart and cause it to know its need and, in turn, be saved.” Well, John had a point. I knew those things to be true, but it panicked me that I couldn't do anything about it as a parent. It was out of my control.
So, then what? As a new mom, what was I to do? I leaned in, hoping John would answer the question that was weighing heavy on my heart. And he did. “As a parent, your responsibility is twofold. First of all, plant the soil. Tuck it in on every side. Dig it in deep trenches around your child. Teach him about the Lord, raise him up in the church. Pack, pack, pack the soil. And then pray. Only the Lord can bring fruit out of fertile soil. But your job as a parent is to plant and pack."
I had never thought about it that way. Plant, pack, and then pray—leaving the work of salvation to the only One who can bring it. I thought about the people in Luke 5 who were desperate to bring their paralytic friend before Jesus. Unable to carry him through the crowds, they climbed up on the roof to lower him right to the feet of Jesus. Trusting that He alone could heal, they played the only role they knew. They brought their friend to Jesus, and they let Jesus take it from there.
So many thoughts raced through my mind, but one in particular stood out. I can plant, I can pack—but then I must trust the Lord to provide. To heal. To change. To save. My role is simple: plant, pack, and pray. Plant, pack, and pray. And repeat. For the rest of my life.
John continued, “Show your child what it looks like to have a satisfied soul in Christ. That is the greatest gift you can give him. Show him the beauty and richness of a life lived in Christ." That’s it, really? So simple and yet profound. As I considered the significance of what he was saying, it made perfect sense to me.
Our children’s greatest need is Jesus. By God's grace, I pray that the children of our church will come to see this as they grow up around people whose “one thing” is to glorify and enjoy the Lord. Consider the next time your church body celebrates the baptism of its children. As a body, we vow to play a role in the Christian nurture of these young lives. Perhaps it comes down to packing, praying, and then seeking to be satisfied in Jesus.
Two years ago, there were so many unknowns when I thought about becoming a mom. John answered the questions I had long been afraid to ask. And yet in doing so, he gave me great hope. It doesn't depend on us. Do you believe this? Do you believe we are completely dependent on Jesus—for ourselves and for our loved ones? Yes, we have a role to play—the significant role of planting, packing, and praying—but salvation belongs to the Lord.
Oh Father, give us grace to know our place. Not as a savior—but as a believer, called to plant, pack, and pray. And live. Help us to leave the work of salvation to you. Our children’s needs are no different than our own. So as little ones fill our pews and classrooms on Sundays, may they see souls that are satisfied in Christ.
Plant, pack, pray. Live before our children with souls that are satisfied by the one, true Savior. Then wait. But keeping praying for that soil—that it would be fruitful—and that He would raise up a child who knows the only One who is truly satisfying.