Surrendered or Loaned?
When each of my three children were born we dedicated them to the Lord. Actually we chose to dedicate them before they were born, but some time shortly after their birth we had a formal time of dedication. In the faith heritage in which both my wife and grew up it is the norm for parents to "dedicate" their children to the Lord. As a pastor I love baby dedications. I love the hope and potential represented in that moment. I love the mix of joy and fear on the faces and in the hearts of the parents during a dedication. I love holding the babies high over my head for everyone to see (I also kind of like the fear on the faces of some of the mothers in congregation when I do as well. Yes, I have some issues.) I love praying for the babies and parents. I love reminding the congregation that they are part of raising this child, by prayer and example.
I am aware that many parents have their children dedicated to the Lord but don't really dedicate their children to the Lord in that moment. They go through the ritual because they know they should and because their is some pressure to do so. In truth maybe most parents who have their children dedicated but don't really dedicate their children to the Lord.
There is a difference between having your children dedicated to the Lord and dedicating your children to the Lord. The difference is that in the former you are loaning your children to the Lord and in the latter you are surrendering them to the Lord. In the first one you want the Lord to do good things in the lives of your children. Keep them healthy, make them wealthy, etc... In the second you surrender them to the Lord for him to call and lead as he desires. In one you don't really take your hands off of them, but in surrender you hand them to Christ and give up control of them to the Lord.
It is easy to think of dedicating your children to the Lord when they are infants. To imagine God protecting them and caring for them. But the truth is that the act of dedication is supposed to be a surrender. A surrender to Christ for his will to be done in the lives of your children. They doesn't always mean protection, or good health and it certainly doesn't promise wealth. In fact, it likely means he will guide them into dangerous and difficult situations. It likely means their will be struggles and suffering. It literally means they are surrendered to Christ. This is something they must choose for themselves at some point, but in dedicating them to the Lord as children you are committing to raising them to follow Christ, his Word and his will.
Easy when you are holding them and they are dependent on you. More difficult when they give themselves to Christ, listen to his call and follow him wherever he leads. My act of dedicating my children to the Lord has been tested many times during their lifetime and I have never regretted surrendering them to Christ. I am now at another one of those heart in the throat moments of being reminded that they belong to him. My son and daughter-in-law have answered the call to full time missions and will be going to Kenya. This also means that 5 of my grandchildren will be nearly 8,000 miles away.
I am reminded that I didn't loan my kids to Christ, I gave them to him. I didn't have them dedicated, when I handed each of them to my father and said the words and prayed the prayers, I literally handed each of them to the Lord for his will not mine.
I am humbled, I am proud, I somewhat apprehensive and I am unbending that they are, and will be, right where they should be in Christ's hands and will, not mine.