“…so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God” (Psalm 78:7-8)
I believe most us as parents would love nothing more than for our children to avoid the mistakes of our past. Part of the purpose of Psalm 78 was just that, to help future generations learn from the past in order to avoid mistakes made by previous ones. In spite of all the Lord had done, the Jewish people were quite stubborn. Many took God’s faithfulness for granted, acted in disobedience and suffered harsh consequences as a result. In the early portion of Psalm 78, the psalmist recounts the events of the past in order to instruct the current generation. A main emphasis made in this section was for the current and future generations to trust God and faithfully obey His will in response to His faithfulness toward them (v. 7-8).
As parents, we bear the responsibility for teaching our children Christian values. Admittedly, it is a difficult task given the “values-neutral” culture in which we live. Everywhere we turn, there’s an assault on Christian values, but that does not lessen the needed commitment to teach them to our children. In his commentary, James Boice writes that parents “should struggle to make sure that our children are taught morality grounded in the character of God and supported by the life and power of our Savior Jesus Christ”.
For me, there have been times when I’ve felt I hadn’t done enough to prepare my children to meet their next phase of life, things I didn’t pray about or emphasize enough in my teaching. Right now is one of those times. In less than a week, we will take Logan to Auburn as he begins the next phase of his life. College will bring about a whole host of challenges to a young person’s walk of faith. Their being grounded in the Word of God is critical. I remember the temptations that the newly found freedom of college life brought me. I also remember succumbing to many of those temptations. I guess that’s why it’s so prominent on my mind right now.
Being a Christian doesn’t lessen the temptations we face. Sometimes it increases them. And unfortunately, there are times, no matter how strong our faith may be, that we give in to them. I pray Logan won’t, but if he does, I pray that the Lord will spare him from any lasting consequences as a result. I’m a little uncomfortable saying that because it seems as if I’m saying that giving into sin is okay. It’s not. God is holy. He hates sin, any sin. But thankfully God is also patient, He loves us and His grace is always greater than our sin. At the end of the day, I’m left to trust Logan to walk his own Christian walk. I know the Lord will be walking with him. It’s easy to let times like these make you feel inadequate as a parent, perhaps even questioning whether you have properly fulfilled your role in training your child to live out their faith. I believe the inadequacy we feel in these times is God’s way of growing us, teaching us to trust Him more. Let our hearts be open to learn.
So, as Logan leaves, I’m left to do what has been my primary responsibility all along. I am to point, reflect and pray. First, I am to point to Jesus Christ and His perfect work on the cross. Jesus alone changes hearts. Secondly, I am to reflect the work of Christ in my own life. Though we never do this perfectly, we are to do it consistently. Our example matters. And lastly, I am to pray; pray that Logan would avoid some of the same mistakes I made, pray these next years would be some of his greatest, pray that obedience to God’s will would be his heart’s desire and pray that he would find the Lord’s presence to be his greatest need.