As I pastor I’m often asked by parents and even grandparents, “What if my children or grandchildren walk away from the faith? What do we do?” I wrote extensively about this in my book. Have you gotten your copy yet? Hint, hint… 🙂 If you are local you can do so at “For Heaven’s Sake” bookstore in Melody Square in North Wilkesboro, or pick up one at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church or if you are out of town, you can order online at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. (And some of you have gotten it, but not cracked it open yet or you think, “I’ve heard all this before.” No you haven’t. Trust me! :))
Here’s my thoughts for those who interested and this comes from the last chapter in my book:
For those who have walked away, the most important thing you can do for them is pray. There are some things that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish. I encourage you to fast and pray for their salvation. Do not try to convince yourself that they know Christ if you aren’t 100% convinced. Perhaps they do, but if they have walked away and give no evidence of Christian fruit in their lives, then it is better to pray as if they do not. Satan has deceived many parents into thinking their children know the Lord because they prayed a prayer or were baptized as a child. That is a dangerous assumption.
Some of you, however, know your child has rejected taking the baton of faith and are sinning against God. You may even feel that your own reputation has been damaged. You might angrily say, “Can’t they see what this is doing to me?” In your mind you think, “I raised my child better than this! What happened?” But, as parents, we must see our investment into the lives of our children in the light of eternity. If we focus on the short term, we will likely have our own pity-party and make their lack of salvation all about us. However, those who make the greatest difference are those who continue to invest without the expectation of immediate return. Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” We all know stories of those who left the faith and went through a prolonged season of darkness, yet eventually emerged in the light. Maybe this is your personal story. Have faith that this will be your son’s or daughter’s story as well.
In his book Handoff, Jeff Myers shares (Jeff Myers, Handoff, pp. 143-44):
I’ve often wondered where Jesus got the patience and perspective to put up with all of the guff his followers gave him. The answer that appears in Scripture is so simple that I rejected it out of hand the first time I heard it. Jesus surrendered the outcome to God. To surrender the outcome to God means acting faithfully through the process, but relinquishing control of the results. My goal in passing the baton is to make sure the pass takes place…then I can release any worry about whether the person I hand off to wins the race. As long as I feel responsible for the outcome of the lives of others, I live in worry. I fret about whether my kids will turn out all right. But when I surrender the outcome to God, fear melts away. (Emphasis his)
I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Myers. There is a wonderful passage of Scripture found in 2 Peter 1:3-9 which provides immense comfort to me as a parent.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain
to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own
glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great
promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful
desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with
virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and
self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and
godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if
these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being
ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For
whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having
forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
In his book Age of Opportunity, Paul David Tripp gives keen insight and encouragement to parents in this passage. Tripp writes (Paul David Tripp, Age of Opportunity, pp. 104-05):
Peter says, “Don’t forget who you are. You are the children of God who have inherited riches beyond your ability to conceive. You have been given everything you need to do what God has called you to do. Don’t give in to discouragement. Don’t quit. Don’t run away from your calling.” We need to walk into the rooms of our children saying to ourselves, “I have everything I need to do what God has called me to do.” This is our identity as the children of God. These are the truths that can lift us out of our weariness and discouragement to parent with faith, courage,
and hope. They call us to hold onto God’s high goals and to fight the hopelessness that the enemy wants to rule our hearts.
We are not alone! God has equipped us to do the job. The Bible says we can parent with hope! When those times come where we feel like throwing in the towel, when we are at the end of our rope, we must hold on to what the Bible teaches us. We have all we need in Christ and we are more than conquerors in him. We must keep on moving forward to the high calling of Christ and we will persevere!
What kind of stewards are we being of our children? We must be faithfully training and teaching them and not pursuing other things that won’t matter in eternity. Children are eternal. I know this is a simple statement, but we must grasp the enormity of it. Read it again in isolation.
Children are eternal.
Our children are going to live forever. They will live forever in either heaven or hell. Jesus said that we should store up our treasures in heaven. Other than Christ, what greater treasure could there be in heaven than our children? Yet, it is so easy to lose eternal focus for temporal things. We know we should set our minds on things above, but we get distracted by the stuff of this earth. True living is really kingdom living. Therefore, if the truth be known, we are not trying to pass our children into adulthood alone, but ultimately right into the kingdom of heaven.
If we choose to embrace the principles outlined in Scripture, we have a great opportunity for success. What is success? To raise genuine, Christ-centered, soldiers who are willing to contend for the faith. May that endeavor be our passion and our greatest joy. And may we one day say with immense satisfaction: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).