Years ago, as a young parent of four young children I read many parenting articles and books on parenting. I attended several Christian parenting retreats and conferences. The whole time I was looking for the “magic formula” that would guarantee that my children would become Christians and fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. I wanted assurances that the effort I was investing in parenting would result in a return that resulted in godly offspring. This may seem like a positive goal for parenting, but the truth is – it is not based on Scripture. God’s Word says:
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
Two situations specifically stand out to me that God used to illuminate His truth. One was a Valentines Day banquet where a couple from our fellowship shared. They were a lovely couple who had been married over 40 years at that time. They were respectful and supportive of each other and fun to be around. They shared how their marriage had not always been that way. ( I honestly was surprised!) They had experienced several crises that had caused them to doubt their faith and God’s love. One was when their daughter rebelled, ran away, and became pregnant. They had three sons, all of whom were walking with God and letting their light shine – yet the heart-break of losing their daughter this way was devastating. She has since come back to the Lord and renewed fellowship with her family, but the three long years she was gone, without any word for months at a time – were demoralizing. Later I asked the mother how she dealt with the anguish and pain during her daughter’s absence. She said that it weighed heavily on her heart and for several months she constantly felt pain until gradually she just felt numb. That was the reality. This mother did not turn her back on God, she was trusting His grace and love, yet her daughter was gone with no outward sign of returning. She told me she “hung in there” believing God is faithful no matter the circumstances. This took a toll on their marriage as well – but again, God was faithful. They did not separate or divorce and God restored and renewed their marriage to the encouraging relationship we all saw. This couple’s willingness to share the heartbreak of a “prodigal daughter” opened my eyes to see that even though they had raised their children according to God’s plan, one child chose to walk outside God’s will.
The second situation was at a women’s retreat. The wife of a well known Christian leader spoke – if I named him many of you would recognize his name. They have eight children and several grandchildren now. This mother shared honestly the tragic story of her son who was addicted to cocaine. This family had “done it all right” as parents. They were active in a local Body of Believers, they had family devotions, they had home schooled/Christian schooled their children, yet this precious son had chosen a course that was leading to destruction and death. All of us wept as this mother shared the pain of hearing a siren and thinking it was the police coming for her son. The pain of not knowing if a knock on the door or a late phone call was the hospital or morgue was something she lived with day by day. All seven of their other children had chosen to follow the Lord, yet her mother’s heart was breaking for this son. This mother shared that her faith was in God’s faithfulness, in spite of her son’s situation. Her honesty in sharing her pain again opened my eyes to the fact that just as I had to come to God in repentance and asked forgiveness for my sin, each of my children (and now grandchildren) must do the same. Even though our children’s salvation is not based on my performance as a mother – it is still my responsibility to train my children in godly ways as an act of worship and honor to my Heavenly Father.
The one and only guarantee we have as parents is that God is faithful! No matter what – God’s faithfulness is enough.