I once read a parenting book that frustrated me.
The wisdom was amazing, but it felt like the author was saying, “I raised great kids, and here’s how you can, too.” There were many 1 + 1 + 1= 3 insinuations like:
Taking kids to church + studying God’s word + surrounding them with godly people = godly kids set for life.
I believe in intentional parenting, and I believe it’s really hard to love someone you don’t really know. For our children to know, love, and understand God, it’s important that we take them to church, share Scripture, cultivate character, and encourage healthy relationships.
But what some parenting books ignore (or skim over) is the fact that even the best parenting doesn’t guarantee results. Jesus was the perfect teacher, yet one of his disciples betrayed him. His perfection could not override the free will that God gives to everyone.
Additionally, a child who looks like a role model can be more distant from God than a child whose life is in shambles but who has a deep, desperate faith. A young adult who thrives in their twenties may self-destruct in their forties. There is no guarantee that any child is set for life, no matter how well-adjusted they seem as they leave home or enter the real world.
Cameron Cole, a youth pastor in the same church for 14 years, wrote a thought-provoking article for Rooted Ministry titled, “Mystery and Lament: When It Looks Like Your Child’s Life is Falling Apart.” He talks about God’s long-game vision and waiting patiently for Him to act.
I have seen the sweet, “good,” youth ministry insider – the type who answers every question in Sunday school and never misses a youth event – become the pot-smoking atheist. I have seen the rebellious high schooler become a Jesus-loving man of the Gospel, the quietly skeptical girl become a consistent church-goer in college, and the kid with superstar Christian parents never give Christianity a second thought.
Cameron says that God makes no guarantees in this life, but regardless of how messy, painful, and hopeless things look, God is at work in your child’s life. He pursues your child, and whether they realize it or participate in it, He will use their life for His ultimate glory. As we accept the unpredictable nature of God’s redemptive work, we gain patience in challenging moments.
This is real life. This acknowledges how today is one chapter in a larger story, and though we can’t predict the future, we can stay faithful in never giving up on our children or God.
A priest once said that our job as Christians is to plant seeds, and God will make sure those seeds take root at a time most opportune to a person’s salvation. In parenting, I take this to mean that what we do, say, or teach today may not sink into our child’s heart until ten or twenty years from now (if then) when it’s desperately needed. Our children have a Savior, but that Savior is not us, and there comes a point where we must let go and trust God to do His thing.
In the meantime, we can pray. We can be prayer warriors and remember these words from my friend’s husband: The older our children get, the more we go to God about our children than we go to our children about God. God answers prayers, but He can’t answer what we don’t pray, and though we won’t always get the answer we hope for, we can stand on His promise to work all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
So to any parent who is struggling, who is worried sick about their teenager, who has seen their college student drift, whose child is making poor choices or shunning the church despite being raised in faith, stay strong. Remember no act of love is a waste, and you can still impact your child by the character of your life.
Keep praying, keep planting seeds, and keep believing in God’s ability to work miracles. You may not see immediate results, but you can be certain God is at work, pursuing your child, hearing your prayers, and planning ways to reveal Himself at a time most opportune to your child’s salvation.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!
Posted by Kari on July 29, 2019