Rebellion is that all too common, yet little spoken of dilemma that many parents face. Few discuss it, as shame often surrounds it. Yet, it is real, it is happening, and it is often more prevalent than we want to believe or admit. It comes in many forms, but it basically boils down to a child making choices that are not in line with the types of choices that the parents would like to see.
It is one of the most painful things to experience as a parent. Parents often feel that they have poured out their very hearts and souls into the training and nurturing of these children, only to have it spurned. The heartbreak is very real and overwhelming, especially the first time it occurs! The shock, the horror, the questioning, the shame, the guilt, the mortification, the worry, the panic, and the sorrow all roll in like the tide, and the current attempts to suck us under!
But the story does not end there.
I once wrote to a woman that was struggling with her wayward teen. I said, “we trust our Father to be the best parent there is, and to draw our children to Himself, in due time. They are children that know the Word, and the Word will not come back void!”
I was then challenged by a different woman that questioned my statement with this, “the Word is also a two-edged sword, bringing some to God, and cutting some away. Having believing parents is not a guarantee for the child to be saved.”
Perhaps you are feeling the same sentiment. Wondering if your child will ever come to faith, or change his or her course? Maybe you are feeling like a parental failure, and blaming yourself for this unfortunate turn of events. Well, these are some of my thoughts on the matter.
Of course, none of us can guarantee the salvation of our children. That goes without saying. Having believing parents guarantees nothing eternally, and we must accept the Sovereignty of God. But that is also not the end of the story.
I do believe that we must continue to hope beyond hope. I take my cue from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind…it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” I do believe that our children, born and raised in the covenant as children of believers and taught from the Word, will return. I will always trust and always hope, because a man that doubts is useless, and his prayers will not be answered, as is so clearly stated in James 1:5-6.
We as parents must believe that what we ask for will be done, when what we ask for is in the will of God, and God says it is not his will that any children should be lost. (Matt 18). However, I KNOW that this does not mean that all children shall be saved. So now what?
Well, what good does it do for a distraught parent to think her child is destined for hell? I think it is better to believe that the child will return, even if not until their death bed, because love hopes all things, believes all things, as I have already stated. We are to be an encouragement to each other, a hand and foot, helping each other in these trying times.
So I encourage you with the fact that we do not know if, even after our deaths, our children may come back and acknowledge all of the ways, and the Word, that they were originally trained in! What a wonderful thought! I don’t think this is living in denial either. I think that it is living in hope, and in the belief of the mighty power and love of God. If I die, and I am wrong and one of my precious children has been eternally damned, then I will be in heaven by then, where there is no pain and no tears. While here on this sin infested earth, I will choose to believe that God will draw in the children that are trained and taught in His word, in His time, using life to mold and shape them into the clay that is fit for His use.
While I live, I will hope for the best, recognizing that it is not a guarantee. I will also encourage other parents to continue to do their jobs as mothers, and to not give in to despair, or acceptance of their child’s waywardness, but to continue in hope and love and belief. This is better for their own mental health, as well as for the parent-child relationship.
I do KNOW in my head that not all are saved, but I CHOOSE to BELIEVE that He will not have His word come back void in regards to our children, even if they do not realize the error of their ways until the last moments of breath they have here on earth. This may not always happen in reality, but the hope will carry most parents through life, and will keep the relationship with them and their children moving in a positive direction, and keep the parents pleading the case before the Father. I see nothing wrong with having love and hope that believes all things, 1 Cor 13:7.
In regards to parental guilt, may I remind you of the several kings in the Old Testament that were godly, yet had ungodly sons? The Scriptures say the parents were godly, and walked in the ways of the Lord, yet the child did not. Sometimes, it really has very little to do with you, as a parent. This is not to say that we as parents are not making mistakes. Of course we are, but God, the Sovereign King of all creation, makes none.
I think sometimes we must go through some things in life before we get to the place of humbling ourselves before our Great King. Sometimes we don’t humble ourselves until we lay on our deathbeds, recognizing our need for salvation, and feeling all our regrets of a life filled with mistakes. Perhaps this may be one of our children’s testimonies, although we fervently pray for a better one!
I also think that people that have gone through more tend to have excellent counsel to offer others, and are less inclined to be judgemental, because they recognize that the process of life and faith can at times be ugly, long and drawn out. Those that have never been truly “tried” often have little compassion on the backslidden or wayward. In fact, they tend to have disdain only. That is ungodly.
The only way to help bring someone back as a human, in my opinion, is through love, because without a solid and loving relationship, there is no avenue to speak into their lives. This is why love is such a HUGE part of God’s commandments.
I think that the community that has no relationship with the wayward often does more harm than good, as relationship and love is key. Lip service is not enough, and being preached at won’t work either, without a loving relationship. Saying we love the brethren is one thing, but feeling it on both sides is another. If a shepherd/elder/believer goes after the wayward, but never really had a relationship of love to stand on in the beginning, I don’t see a lot of good coming out of it. The person must feel loved for who they are, not just expected to conform in order to be loved. They must feel that the concern is legitimate.
To better illustrate my point, the parable in Matthew 18 about the lost sheep talks about shepherds and sheep. The shepherd knew his sheep well, cared for them daily, fed them, walked with them, listened to them, tended to them, healed them, carried them, again I say daily. To be a shepherd over a sheep, lost or otherwise, you are in a close and intimate relationship. This is how you tend to them! Through your close relationship!
Jesus, at the end of Matthew 18, says treat the sinner as a pagan or tax collector if they don’t listen. Yet, pagans and tax collectors were often who He visited and dined with. I don’t think we are to completely shun them. He didn’t, he ministered to them regularly, and humbly, not as someone proud, and he always did so in love and gentleness.
Parenting wouldn’t be the adventure it is without all the twists and turns to keep us humble! None of us will ever have it all figured out, and that is okay with me. We may have no need of a Saviour otherwise. The story for me ends here. A parent must maintain relationship, hope and believe all things, and pray fervently with anticipation for the salvation and restoration of her wayward child. Right unto death. Who knows the final outcome? While I live and breathe, I say again, the Word that has been poured out, will not come back void. Amen! To quote my dear friend Aly, in regards to not seeing all your children in heaven: “not acceptable..no way did you have a babe from the Lord that won’t be with the Lord in the end. Absolutely no way.” I end with Aly’s quoted verse, Acts 16:31 NASB ” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Love Michelle