It’s kind of inevitable really. You’re walking in the grocery store and you pause as you hear and see that a child is simply flailing on the floor throwing a massive tantrum that even makes normally naughty kids stop and pause. Or maybe you are walking in the mall and hear a kid screaming and pulling so hard from the grip of their parents that at any moment you think their arm is simply going to rip off – and then you snap into reality, realize this is you and those are your kids and say to yourself that that THAT is not what you signed up for. That when you were blessed with kids that you were going to do everything in your power to make sure that you were not that parent and those would not be your kids. But that it didn’t work out that way.
You may ask yourself what does this scenario have to do with raising up a family in a godly home with kids who love and fear God and with the hopes of them loving and fearing God as they become adults? Well, in my humble opinion, just as much as you cannot control the actions of your kids when it comes to tantrums you too cannot control their ultimate love and dedication to God. You can create an environment, you can teach and educate but ultimately you cannot force. You can even put the “fear of god” in them – but in the end that’s simply all you have given your children: fear without the love.
I have a good friend who has a teenager that they simply have problems with and it’s not because they haven’t built a healthy home and it’s not because they haven’t prayed with her or taken her to church. Their home is full of grace and love and hope and peace and yet despite all of this “good-home vibes” their daughter still has chosen, for whatever the reason, to act out and live a life that doesn’t reflect what we say should be important to a Christian. And obviously I am keeping many things vague and not going deeper into who they are for specific reasons – but ultimately all those things play a part but don’t get down to what the point of this message is. The point of it is that all that we do and try to control and put into place in our homes will only go so far. At some point just as you had to make decisions and step out on your own, so too do our kids.
My wife and I try so hard to make sure that our home is safe, that the kids know God, that we pray with them every day, that they know and understand that we CONTINUE to pray for them when they leave, and that the characteristics we feel that are important to have are the exact ones we read in scripture. Every day I tell my kids to “Be kind, considerate, compassionate, and full of grace and love.” And I say this as they are getting out of the car. These are important values to live into that go beyond our house-walls AND YET as soon as my son or daughter step out of the house they are navigating the world through their own lenses and feelings and experiences. Our guidance as parents helps but it doesn’t force them to make the decisions and choices they are faced with. That’s all on them. Again, we lead and guide and instruct and give tools for them to carry but only they can choose to use those tools.
But with that being said I don’t want you to feel that it’s pointless to even try if ultimately we cannot control that outcome. Because really we ARE told to try. We ARE told to instruct our kids in the way of the Lord (Prov 22:6). We ARE told to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind (Matthew 22:37) and that really plays out for me because loving the Lord above all things is shown and reflected in our actions which is seen, felt, and taken in by all who see us. We’re told to rejoice always and continuously pray (1 Thess 5:16-17) as well as simply being in the word every day. And finally, it’s not in the bible specifically but I think we can make an argument that it KIND of is – I think a house needs to be one of laughter. A house of laughter is a safe home where people can let down their protective walls and simply be at peace and rest. Love, prayer, scripture, and laughter – I think these are beautiful and wonderful ways that we can fill our homes up to help foster a Christian atmosphere – but again ultimately they will not seal our kids in a relationship with God for the rest of their lives. I wish it did – but it doesn’t.
THE REALITY OF PEACE
I wish I could sit here and tell you that simply getting our kids baptized and at church every Sunday would do it – but it doesn’t. It’s all in God’s hands. It’s all part of his plan. I think THERE is where I find peace and comfort in all of this. That it’s ultimately not up to me. That my failures will still be failures and my love will still be love. That while yes I will strive to give more love and less failures but ultimately it’s all in God’s loving hands. He knows each of us and is working out his plans regardless. And in the end it’s HIS plans and his ways that WILL be done. We find peace and comfort knowing that at some point even if our kids walk away from the Lord the Lord does not walk away from them. That no matter the trials they walk into, the paths they take, the directions they go and the storms they face – all of those are still with God at their side.