CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For years I've watched my only son grow to become the awesome man he is, even without the benefit of a father during his formative years. I truly believe that his heavenly Father has watched over him and rescued him many a time from youthful indiscretions.At a very young age he gave his heart to Jesus Christ, followed by being immersed in the baptismal waters at the small country church. Even as a child, his winsome ways delighted many adults who were seasoned Christians. They were surprised by his knowledge of Scripture; with purpose much as an athlete in a race follows the rules, so as to be eligible to win the prize at the finish line.In his early teens I dedicated my son to the LORD, trusting God's promise, "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older they will not leave it" (Proverbs 22:6 NLT). As parents all we can do is to show them the right path, while we have the years of influence with them, by our uncompromising example. Our descendants observe and imitate our actions more than they ever hear our words. Our biblical rants ring as a noisy alarm when our actions are hypocritically different from the written Word of God. It will not be by coercion or manipulation, either. We are imperfect beings and as such we will make blunders along the way. However, with faithfulness, humility and constant prayer our loved ones will desire to follow a godly course.
Our adult children may shock us at times by the choices they make, to their detriment and our disappointment, but God is never surprised or anxious. They may seem to be far from God or merely not as spiritual as we would like, but only God knows their heart. God has promised that nothing can snatch us from His grip! I always find comfort in the promise that God thinks good thoughts toward us, for good and not for evil -- to give us hope and future (John 10:28-29; Jeremiah 29:11). I wonder if sometimes our motive for wanting our children to look "spiritual" is because we are concerned how they make us look before our own peers!Wanting to give advice my son might be able to relate to, I thought of this: A sailor would not think of leaving dockside without the necessary equipment of life preservers, lifeboats and navigation systems. Likewise, we can weather storms of life when we are properly equipped. It is not a matter of if storms come, but when they happen. Jesus taught a parable of a person who hears and obeys His teachings, being like a wise person who builds his house on bedrock -- the house can withstand when strong winds blow and floodwaters rise. While a person who ignores His teachings, being like a foolish person who built his house on sand -- it collapsed with a mighty crash when the storm raged (Matthew 7:24-27). God's word is a lighthouse to guide us safely to harbor (Psalm 119:105). With Christ as our Captain and One who has full authority over the wind and rain (Luke 8:24), we can sail through adversity with confidence -- as if we are wearing a spiritual life preserver and have a lifeboat always near."Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits' end. 'LORD, help!' they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!" Psalm 107:26-30 NLT.Elmendorf may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org