Train a child
Train up a child in a way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Its important to understand that this scripture does not mean that every child raised in a christian home and environment
is guaranteed that they are never going to leave the church. It is inevitable that that child will grow up and develop their own opinion,
personality, viewpoints etc,… and will eventually have to make their own decisions on whether or not they are going to live for God. I can list prayer warriors and pastors and ministers that practiced what they preached at home as well as in the public eye today, however their kids for whatever reason are not living for god the way they taught them.
What this scripture does mean, is that the things you teach them are going to be instilled in them forever. Wether they leave it it or not theres going to come a time that a situation that comes against them and rather than throw their hands up and wonder how they are going to handle it they are going to think back to what mom and dad taught them.
“Should I retaliate or pray about it and forgive them?” Should I compromise my beliefs to make my peers happy, or should I stand firm on the word of God and the doctrine I was taught growing up?” “How would my parents handle this situation?” “What would my pastor think if he saw me right now.” “Would God approve of what I’m doing?”
The story of the prodigal son is fitting for this topic.
A man born into a wealthy reputable family with a bright future, decided one day to make the decision to see what this world had to offer. He told his father he was leaving and asked for part of his inheritance and estate, and rather than rebuking his son the father grants him his wish. We understand from the text that the son ultimately failed and lost everything, he left everything he held dear to sell out to the world and was left empty handed and a heart of despair until one day he found himself living amongst the swine, and adhering to their lifestyle until one day he decided that enough was enough. It was then he reached his breaking point and decided to make the trip back to his fathers house.
At this point the father had every right to reject his son, he could have slammed the door in his face and called him ungrateful and selfish.
He could have pretended that he never even new who the boy was , but that wasn’t the case here. We find in scripture, a father waiting for his sons return, watching for a cloud of dust at the end of the road indicating his son return home. If I’m not mistaken the bible doesn’t give a time table for how long the son was away from home and I feel theres a reason for this. He was willing to wait as long as necessary for his son to come home. He refused to give up, and he never lost hope, he trusted that the values he instilled in his son were still there and that one day he was going to remember where he came from and there was coming day when he would come back and reclaim his rightful place in his fathers house.
So one day the fathers son was answered, and that cloud of dust wasn’t another visitor coming to pay a visit, it wasn’t his oldest son returning home from work but rather it was the son that left his home, finally returning to his fathers house. So rather than rebuking his son he rushed out to greet him with open arms, and that evening had a huge celebration honoring his sons return.
Now I understand that we teach this as the Father representing God and the son as the saint leaving the church, with God welcoming the sinner back with open arms, but humor me for just a moment as I offer a different viewpoint or perception.
We all have children, God forbid one day they leave the church, leave behind the truth, try to forget everything they learn. Allow me to offer a few words of wisdom, or tips that we can learn from this story.
1. Let them go. It does them no good to shelter them forever, they will come to resent you and push harder by forcing them them to stay as they get older, even though they have other plans.
2. Let them fail. They need to endure trials of life and situations if they are going to grow strong in the lord ands learn to stand firm on the word of God. A group of scientists created a human made bio-dome where the created this huge dome complete on the inside with trees, plants and grass along with other forms of vegetation. However overtime they noticed the trees were growing parallel with the ground because there was no wind blowing against it causing it to remain straight. Likewise we need those winds and storm to learn to stand upright and strong.
3. Love them no matter what. Friends will leave them, even siblings will rebuke them, but they need mom and dad to love them despite their failures and short comings. Its your job to pick up the broken pieces. Be sure to pick those pieces back together before this world does.
4. Probably the most important one. Never stop praying for them. Never stop interceding for them, because if you don’t then who will? I can tell you story after story of parents praying for their children, for years. Some took 5 years, some 10, 30, or even 50 years, praying for their children to come home. They raise their hand during prayer request time at the church for their petition for their children until one day the doors open and that son or daughter sits next to them in the pew, prayers answered! Welcome them back with open arms, celebrate, rejoice that God heard your prayers!