If you’ve raised your kids in a Christian home, this is for you.
If you’ve raised your kids in a Christian home and you are hurting, this is for you.
We all know parents typically pass on their values and traditions to their children. We model what is important to us. We live, breathe, and eat what is valuable to us.
I have been very strong in my faith in terms of taking the scripture literally: Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
The events of my life brought me to needing certainty in which to build my life upon. Maybe I was more needy than most. It doesn’t matter. The scripture stands true for all of us not matter what our story is.
Needless to say, I was determined to pass on to my children “the map” to guide them through life. I was not alone. Most of my church community were first generation Christians. This means church wasn’t just for Sundays, Easter, and Christmas. It was a lifestyle for us of embracing what God gave us, the Bible, to be the light guiding our path. Not in a legalistic, micro managing sense, but a nurturing environment whereby they could grow healthier and stronger than we ever did.
And avoiding the mistakes we made.
I worked hard at this. I raised and home-schooled 8 children. They will never know what I went without in order to give them all they needed. And I don’t really want them to know in order to get their eternal gratitude. That’s not the point.
I made mistakes along the way. I lost my temper. I could have hugged them more. I could have been more encouraging. I could have given more individual time.
As one friend said during this time of raising our children, “you know, we are just one step ahead of them”, meaning, we are learning along with them.
But my main goal was they would love God the way I had come to love him. And we all know teaching is not so much what we say but how we live.
That didn’t mean rituals and reciting prayers. It meant loving God and doing what he says – not the letter of the law as if to receive good points or salvation – but out of love and knowing his ways are to bless us not harm us.
We knew it worked. We experienced it first hand.
The part I forgot was they had to experience it first hand, too.
One thing we were reminded as we raised our families, “God has no grandchildren”.
This means God only has sons and daughters. In other words, no one comes to God through another. It’s not automatic. There has to be a personal response to the salvation provided for you (Don’t we stand in awe of the guy who sacrificed his life by taking the bullet on the front lines, saving his platoon? Like that.). And there has to be a personal, ongoing relationship with God to know him, his ways, and all he provides to help us throughout life.
As our church community raised our children, I think most of us thought input – output. I know I did. I remember reminding my friends we can’t look for the results too quickly. We could be impatient. I mean, that’s how the world was conditioning us already in the early 80s and we’d have to be careful we weren’t looking for the “fruit” too soon. It’s like planting a garden, right?
It seemed simple enough. Practical. Of course, they would hear and see and automatically follow. They would see how their parents invested in them in such sacrificial ways. At the very least, they would understand what we didn’t know when we were their age.
Then the years unfolded. We were naive enough to believe the teenage years would not be as tumultuous because we had provided and protected and kept the words of life visible in thought, words, and deed. Certainly the struggles were not going to hit them as hard as they did us when we didn’t have the map.
These unique, God-given, children who received Christ and were baptized, you know .. the ones God had a purpose and destiny for .. struggled, tripped, and fell just like we did.
Then I remembered, God has no grandchildren.
That doesn’t mean only when they are 8, 10, 12 years old.
It means when they are 16, 18, 20 ..
.. 30, 40, or 50.
Dear parent, don’t look for the fruit too soon. They have enough of the word of God in them. It’s in there. And we know what God says- It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Remember? … the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
God’s ways, his time, is not like ours.
That doesn’t mean at age 12 or 18 all will be well.
But it might not.
That’s because our lives are a series of situations and events which cause us to choose which way we will go. And each one of us has to choose accordingly.
Each one of our children have to personally respond to what their decisions will be. It is between them and God.
It’s important to me that my kids, no matter what age, that they will see God’s word is true and can be trusted. That each one of us, no matter who we are or where we came from, are broken with weaknesses and faults and sin. We are vulnerable and frail. God knows this. He wants to help us.
If only we would listen.
I’ve learned something very important about myself, too. I know how I feel if my kids don’t choose God’s ways. It hurts because I know the personal sacrifice.
Now I know how God feels when I don’t choose his ways. Because He knows his personal sacrifice.
And now I have a greater understanding of how it makes him feel.
God loves us no matter how far away we stray from him. That is incredible to think about! He never, ever lets go.
If you are hurting because you’ve paid a price of raising your children with Christian values and principles, and perhaps even were mocked in the way you chose to have a Christian home, don’t despair.
You did not fail. You dedicated him or her to God, remember?
God knows all the details.