I am a part of a weekly bible study with a small group of ladies. If you do not currently have a small group that you meet with, I strongly encourage you to find one – or begin one! We meet in the home of a friend and our curriculum is simply the bible. We read, we discuss, we ask, we pray. We come together because we are hungry. Sometimes we cry, often we laugh, always we search to know more.
God is faithful to lead and the topics studied and scriptures read always speak to a particular need in the group. We linger after our “lesson” is completed and share further what spoke to us, or just visit about our plans for the day.
This week’s “after” discussion centered around wayward children. We have ladies with babies, ladies with teenagers, ladies with young adults, and ladies with older adult children who have provided us with grandchildren. (This act in itself has more than made up for any hardship we felt our children may have caused us.) So anytime the topic of children arises, we all have many things to say!
The older of us have the benefit of hindsight, whether we feel we did a good job raising our children or we share our mistakes in order to encourage a younger mother to take a different route. Our children grown, we have a different perspective on how they managed to survive our efforts in “training them up in the way they should go”.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (KJV)
In my experience, Proverbs 22:6 (above) was a verse that gave me hope for the final outcome of raising my children, yet I had very little understanding of what it really meant when I was actually doing the training. I fervently believed that I was to train my children to do right, to love God, to obey Him, to have integrity, and all the other habits and characteristics of a good person. And since He had placed these beautiful souls with me, I struggled to train them in my ways. Herein lies the root of many a parent’s frustration.
How do you train a child that is not like you? Surely I am not the only mother known to look at her child in bewilderment and silently ask “Why do they do that???”. Many of us enter motherhood not even really knowing who we are, let alone these small individuals who inhabit our world. Whether our children come with a spouse, through adoption, or natural birth, we take our responsibilities to care for them very seriously, especially when it comes to spiritual things. We want to do it right so that we can secure a wonderful life for their futures.
Yet for many of us having done the very best we could, a day comes when our plans seem to have gone awry. A child is not on the path we had planned and prepared for them. How can they reject the fundamentals we so diligently established? We no longer silently ask, but are indignantly demanding “Why are you doing that????”
The enemy quickly comes to accuse. Our child is losing their way and we agonize with the questions of where we went wrong. What did we miss? How is this possible? Why, God???
We want to go to God and quote our adaptation of Jeremiah 29:11 –
“For I know the plans your mother and I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”
Letting go of the plans we have for our children is an uprooting experience. We’ve spent years planting the seeds for what will be. We grieve when our children make choices that we know are wrong. We hurt for them before they are even aware of the consequences they have set in motion. But often we grieve mostly for ourselves. Our words of instruction or correction are many times the camouflage for the anger we have over the destruction of our dreams. We will not have things our way and the disappointment runs deep.
At my greatest point of despair for my children, in the midst of my hand-wringing, crying pleas to God, here is what He gave me:
“…Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears…”
Stop crying about this!
“…your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord; and your children shall return from the enemy’s land.”
Just like that. He assured me they were not lost forever to the ways of the world. They would return. YAY!! We’ll get back on track with my plans! Oh wait….there’s more?
“And there is hope for your future, says the Lord; your children shall come back to their own country.“
Oh. You mean they can find You in a different way than I did?? They may see You differently? They may worship differently? You have a different plan than mine?? Remember that Proverbs scripture? Here’s how it reads in the Amplified version:
“Train up a child in the way he should go – and in keeping with his individual gift or bent.…”
God knows our children more intimately that we will ever know them this side of heaven. He created them with their particular personalities, temperaments, gifts, and tendencies. Who knows better how to get them back on the right track?? He will bring them back into His plans for them and it is more beautiful than anything we could have ever dreamed up. I know. I am watching this unfold before my very eyes.
Our part with a wayward child? Let go of our plans, believe in the faithfulness of God, and become their warriors in prayer.
“…you shall cross before our brothers (children) in battle array, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, until the Lord gives your brothers (children) rest, as He gives you, and they also possess the land which the Lord your God is giving them.” Joshua 1:14-15