Watching a particular scene, in the recently released movie Grace Unplugged, has prompted within me the desire to pour out my thoughts and feelings concerning it. Referring to his wayward eighteen year old daughter, Grace's father says, as he looks heavenward, "She's yours now, Lord."
Yes, how necessary it is for all parents, who have surrendered their allegiance to Jesus, to surrender total parenting control to Him as well. Of course, no matter what, He is in control whether or not we humans turn over our supposed control to Him. Thankfully, He works in our lives and in the lives of our children no matter how much control we do or do not relinquish to Him. God the Father, as the only perfect parent, loves our children even more than we do, and what He has planned for them is best. His ways are higher than our ways, and there will always be much we are unable to understand about His ways. As we spend time wrestling in prayer with Him, seeking His guidance in His Word and His Holy Spirit, He will afford us His wisdom, knowledge and right thinking on how to parent our children. Our children are unmitigated blessings from Him, and to be blessed by Him with children is an awesome responsibility, one never to be taken lightly. With each passing year, as our children grow older, we afford them realistic opportunities to make more decisions for themselves. As they make poor decisions, they can choose to learn from them or not. This is all part of striving for independence that begins the very day of our birth.
Many these days have made a practice of accusing disciples of Jesus of brainwashing our children, by simply teaching them to seek God and His will through prayer and obedience to the precepts set forth in His Holy Word. They would prefer for us to offer our children up as sacrifices to the state, as if the state is not in the business of indoctrination. How convoluted and destructive this type of thinking is. How irresponsible and unloving it would be to keep from our children knowledge of the only way to truth, the only way to holy and righteous living, the only way to life eternal, the only way to peace that passes all understanding and joy unspeakable and full of glory. We are all born knowing God, with a conscience that divides right from wrong. The world begins it's seduction as soon as we are born into it, and if responsible parents remove their God-given, authoritative, loving teaching and correction from our children, how much sooner will the sad fall from truth inevitably occur. Many times opportunity and vulnerability are all that it takes for anyone of us to make a poor choice that leads us away from eternal life, and towards eternal death. But for the grace of God there go I we can proclaim on an ongoing basis! All of God's children have rebelled against Him, except for His only perfect child, so we can count on our imperfect children rebelling against their imperfect earthly parents as well as against their heavenly Father. How easy it is for folks to have all of the answers when they have been faced with none of the problems personally. This seems particularly true when it comes to parenting.
Yes, we are called to relinquish our parental control to God's ultimate authority, while at the same time, we are called by God to do our part in guiding our children along the narrow way to eternal life. We are partners in conjunction with God as we raise our children to know Him and to make Him known. We will all make many heartbreaking mistakes in raising our children, and many variables come into play as we do so. There are those among us who feel things much more deeply than do others, for we allow ourselves to. Some children linger long in the nest while others fly to independence much earlier. Some live close by, while others live at a great distance. Myriad varying influences come into children's lives, for good and for bad. Some families are exceedingly blessed by being able to remain in their home areas, where their ancestral roots are firm and deep, while others lose their close systems of loving support as they move away from such vital, life-giving and enhancing familiar connections. There are families whose members are intimately connected, and families that are much more loosely joined. There are children whose lives are always open books unto their parents, while children in other families have many chapters that remain ever closed to their parents. How exceedingly easy it is for those among us who have not yet become parents, especially parents of rebellious teens, to offer up advice to those of us who are in the midst of unimaginable suffering and heartbreak, due to the rebellion of our teens. There are many who would rather point the finger of condemnation, even relishing in the pain that we are suffering, because they believe that the suffering is deserved. Instead of helping to bear our burden by lovingly coming alongside to offer comfort, encouragement, inspiration and love, or simply a shoulder to cry on, they prefer to say, "I told you so." It's as if they want us to wallow in our disappointment and pain, as they withhold loving support. Another hurtful reaction to our pain is when others are not willing to grieve with us, as they unthinkingly tell us we should move past our pain. How can we move past it when it's an ongoing condition? We're living in the midst of it on a daily basis, wondering what antics our rebellious teens will act out next. What hurtful words will they sling and why? Will they come home tonight or not? If not, where are they, with whom and what are they doing? Is it illegal, safe, healthy? Whom are they harming besides themselves and their concerned family? Will they end up in jail or possibly dead? We will not be able to move past the torment until our prodigals return to their first love - Jesus, who is the truth. Sadly, many are unwilling to listen as we seek healing and comfort through talking about it. Until someone has walked in another's shoes, quite often we are sorely unequipped to extend the mercy, compassion and discernment needed in order to display the love of Jesus to another. WHY IS THAT? The reality of it is, as long as our child is a prodigal, our hearts will remain broken, that is, if we are responsibly engaged with our children. Of course, the Bible instructs us to be content whatever state we are in, and as hurting parents, we can achieve a state of contentment. It's necessary for us to be able to function in our daily lives. However, it is wise of us to remember that there will be days where we will be utterly depleted due to fighting the ongoing battle for our souls, and we will be unable to quench the grievous weeping over our children from deep within. It's healthier to allow ourselves to feel the deep well of profound pain, for then we are also able to feel the deep well of profound joy that is also a significant part of our lives, as we abide in Jesus. To attempt to stifle the devastating pain is unrealistic and crippling. Out of our painful experiences comes the ability to reach out to others in their suffering. It enables us to make a difference for good in this life as well as into eternity. It's part of the refinement process as we become more like Jesus, if we allow it. Out of our deep pain, we become warriors for Him, soldiers of the Cross, as we determine to keep our branches in His vine.