My pastor spoke the words during one of his Sunday morning sermons, and the line stuck with me ever since. Standing in the crow’s nest pulpit perched on the right side of the sanctuary, he told the congregation what he would say his girls every morning as he dropped them off at school.
Five years later, I find myself reciting the very same words to my own three kids each day as they slide the van door open in the school parking lot:
“Remember who you belong to!”
Those five words pack a whole lot of meaning.
For one, if my kids remember that they belong to God, that knowledge can be a great source of comfort and encouragement to them in so many different situations: when they’re feeling peer pressure, when they’re lonely, when they’re struggling with a lack of purpose or direction, when they feel like a failure.
Isaiah 43:1-3 illustrates this comfort: “But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
I asked my pastor’s daughter how the phrase impacted her during her childhood. One example she gave was from sixth grade. She recalls, “I found those words to be particularly comforting when I moved to a new school in sixth grade. I often felt lonely and intimidated in a new culture. Knowing that I was His child and that He 'had my back' so to speak really helped me. It helps me to trust Him - knowing that He's got me.”
My pastor explained one motivation for sharing these words with his girls on such a regular basis. He wanted them to know that “whatever might happen, good or bad, we have a heavenly Father. If I love my children so much and am so concerned about them, how much more so our heavenly Father?”
We all know that the pressure our kids face in this day and age is significant, and only getting worse. What a blessing it is to be able to assure them that they belong to God, and to remind them of this fact as we send them off wherever the Lord leads them throughout each day.
I’m reminded of lyrics in the song, “Greater,” by the Christian band, MercyMe. They sing,
“I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed
when others say I’ll never be enough
and greater is the One living inside of me
than he who is living in the world.”
Let’s remind our kids (and ourselves) that we belong to One who is greater than all, and He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
Secondly, remembering that we belong to God also serves to help us and our children resist temptation and sin.
According to my pastor, one of the reasons he told his girls to “remember who they belong to” was to remind them that they “should conduct themselves in such a way as to not damage the Father’s reputation.” Just like it says in Philippians 1:27, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” My pastor’s daughter agrees that the phrase was useful in this regard: “Hearing my dad say these words reminded me that I belonged to God and therefore He had His eye on what I was doing. I found it to be a good accountability.”
We are not our own; we were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
My own hope is that by cementing this phrase into my kids’ hearts, the Lord will bring the words to mind at the right time. When they are faced with various temptations and decisions, I pray that they will indeed remember who they belong to, and choose wisdom for His sake.
Both aspects of this phrase (identity and accountability) work together when we consider the fact that as Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We bear His name. We’re His living, walking representatives in all that we say and do. My pastor’s daughter points out, “Thinking about these words makes me aware of my responsibility as His Ambassador.”
I hope my kids will realize the same thing, and that God would continually soften their hearts and enable them to be a good witness and testimony as they bear His name in the world. My pastor’s closing comments are a great reminder for all of us: As earthly parents we are given the task of teaching and training our children in righteousness, but “the final result will be seen when they stand before the Lord Jesus one day.”
So I’ll leave you with the same challenge, as you slide open the van door to embark on another day in the world: Remember who you belong to.
Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African and together they have three children. Kate is the author of the e-book, Letters to Grief, hosts the Five Minute Friday blog link-up, and has contributed to several other online publications. She blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Twitter @k8motaung.