Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen"1 (Lyrics)
Proverbs 22:6 – Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (NIV 2011)
Mary and Joseph were the antithesis of helicopter parents. Wikipedia defines a helicopter parent as one "who pays extremely close attention to a child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they 'hover overhead', overseeing every aspect of their child's life constantly." We can definitely say that Mary and Joseph were not helicopter parents, despite the fact that they bore the enormous responsibility of training and caring for the Son of God.
Before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, they knew that they were being entrusted with parenting God's Son. From the angel Gabriel's message about His conception, Mary was aware that her Son was unique, and from Simeon's words about His destiny, she had an inkling of what lay ahead for Him.
Very little is said in the Bible about Joseph's role as Jesus' earthly father, but we do know that he believed Mary's account of Jesus' heavenly parentage, and he diligently trained Him in the carpentry trade. Nonetheless, the spotlight is usually on Mary as the mother of this heavenly Child.
Luke 2:19 – But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. (NIRV)
Despite His parents' natural concerns in that dangerous time in history, they did not cosset Him or throw up barricades to protect Him from all possible danger.
As an example of this, when 12-year-old Jesus and His family travelled to Jerusalem for Passover that year, it wasn't until their caravan was partway home that Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus wasn't in the group. With no Amber Alert available, they hurried back to Jerusalem to look for Him. Finding Him in the temple intelligently conversing with the religious leaders, they did not understand the significance of this event, though Jesus Himself knew the purpose of this early encounter.
Caring for our children, grandchildren, and others in today's world can be daunting, but we can trust our loving heavenly Father to guide us each step of the way. We may be alarmed by the danger and risk that we see ahead of our loved ones, but we can entrust them to God's loving care and protection.
Had Mary tried to protect Jesus from future danger, she would have been out of step with God's plan of salvation for the world. Helicopter parenting today cannot protect our children from all dangers, particularly events that are part of God's plan for children or others in our care — by hampering growth and development, both theirs and ours. We do not know what God has planned for our loved ones, but let us trust His plan and His heart.
Prayer: Dear Father, You cared so well for Your Son while He was here on earth. Please show us how to train and wisely care for our children and others for whom we bear oversight. Amen.