I hope this book would not sound “preachy” or even “teachy.” But looking back over my years as a mom, and the things I’ve gone through, I feel sorta like a person who has survived cancer, who knows what made me whole, and who must share that remedy with others; and to fail to do so would be a sin, or at the least heartless.
And since I’m writing a book, I must discipline myself to sit down at appointed times, and ask the Lord to help me share some experience in my life that is publish-worthy. If I weren’t writing a book, I probably would never have the opportunity of sharing these things with you. As I prayed while writing my book, Tom and Me, I must ask the Lord to help me to be open and honest without being indiscreet. As I write this very difficult chapter, I’ve already prayed that prayer. So here goes…
There are Scriptures in the Bible that I will never understand, although I’ve searched through commentaries, taken notes in every sermon I’ve ever sat through…unless, of course I was in Ukraine. I don’t speak Russian, and even if I did, I could never write what I understand.
Two of those verses are Proverbs 31:28, “Her children arise up and call her blessed;” and Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Based on my belief that the Bible is the Word of God, and it should be the foundation on which we build our lives, our marriages, and yes, train our children, I cannot deny either one of those Scriptures.
But I don’t understand them, and I won’t even try to explain them.
One of the hardest questions I am asked is: “How can I raise my children to serve the Lord?” So my answer is usually this: “If your children serve the Lord, it’s by the grace of God.”
And I tell you, Mom, the same: You raise children just like you do anything else. You read your Bible every day, be faithful in church, be submissive to your husband, and ask the Lord to help you meet the challenges of the day, which include those of being a mom. Just do right, and trust the Lord to make of those children what He would have them to be.
When children don’t call their moms blessed, which to me means serving her God; and when they DO indeed depart from the way they should go, does this mean that:
1) She’s not a virtuous woman?
2) She didn’t train them in the way they should go?
I don’t know. I won’t attempt to answer those questions. But believe me, I’ve been there, and I’m going to suggest some things first of all for the mother of young children, and then for moms who are there right now. Your teenager or your adult children have turned their backs on God, although they were raised in church, and you’ve done your best to train them in the ways of the Lord.
It’s easy to see why the sons of David and Eli didn’t call their fathers “blessed.” They made so many mistakes. We’re not going to mention their role as fathers, but if you like, you could read I Samuel 4, and II Samuel 12, and see the children of these men of God. David and Eli were successful in many areas of their lives, except in the most important one. We don’t have to ask ourselves why their sons didn’t serve God, why they were murderers, why they committed the lowest sins. The reason is obvious when we study the lives of these two fathers.
But I personally know women who are much better mothers then I am. They seem to be the Virtuous Woman herself described in Proverbs 31:10-31, and yet their children don’t serve the Lord.
I don’t have all the answers, but without being “preachy” here goes:
I. Mommie #1: You know all there is to know about mothering. You think this is easy. “If I just make it through potty-training; through homeschooling or homework; just wait until they leave for college…” I’ve been there, secretly planning my post-baby days. Come on, don’t tell me you never look at a motherless woman, and long for her freedom. The thoughts of getting to eat everything on your plate when you go out to eat; going to bed at night, and knowing that the next sound you hear will be that of your alarm clock, and not, “Mommie, I gotta…” I’ve been there, and it’s no fair that I can’t write this book and be self-righteous, if you can pretend you’ve never had thoughts like that. But there is one huge advantage you have over us older moms whose children have already left home: you still don’t get phone calls that turn your life upside down. You lie down at night, and know your baby is in the next room. You still have control over what she puts into her mouth, his playmates, and what he wears. So what can you do so that someday that child will rise up and call you blessed? What can you do to make sure, or at least do your part, to create a desire in the little one to serve the God you love?
There are at least two fathers in the Bible, whose children rebelled against them; these were wonderful fathers.
The story of the first Father Whose children didn’t call them “Blessed,” is found in Genesis 2:16 and 17, and He was God Himself. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” God placed boundaries. The word “commanded” indicates that there were certain rules for man. He was the perfect Father. He made the first man and the first woman perfect. But they didn’t make Him happy. They didn’t bless Him. They disobeyed Him. God protected them, by placing boundaries around them in the beautiful Garden of Eden. He gave them some orders, and they disobeyed them. We should place boundaries around our children when they’re small. Just as God had to punish His children, taking them out of the Garden of Eden, we must punish our children while they’re still young, when they go outside the boundaries we have set for them. When a mother lets her child do anything he wants to do, she is preparing him to rebel against authority…his teachers at school, the policeman, the pastor, and God Himself. It’s much harder for a child who is rebellious, who has always been allowed to have her way, to one day accept Christ than for that child who has been taught to obey, and to respect authority. And consequently, that could be the reason for his some day not “calling you blessed.”
II. Mommie #2: that’s me, and you if your children are teenagers or adults.
The second father we find in the Bible whose son didn’t call him “blessed” is found in Luke 15:11-32. What we learn from him, we can observe in verse 20. “And he arose, and came to his father, But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”
A. When your child doesn’t call you blessed, turning their back on God, keep the lines of communication open. Never allow open sin, or a lifestyle unpleasing to God under your roof. But never, never close the door of your house, much less of your heart to your child. This father didn’t require his son to repent before he took him back. He was waiting for him. Never allow sin to be committed in your house, but precious Mom, when you say to your son or to your daughter, “I won’t speak to you until you return to God,” or “Until you confess your sin, and serve God, you can’t come into my house,” you’re hindering the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, to work in his heart. This could be the cause for their hardening their heart, and could even lead to suicide or to committing worse sins than those he is guilty of now. Your son knows you don’t approve of his lifestyle; your daughter knows the grief she’s causing you; they know they’re breaking God’s heart. You don’t need to place barriers between them and you in order for them to know that you don’t approve of their sin. Open your arms and your heart to that wayward son, your rebellious daughter; don’t reject them.
B. When your children don’t call you blessed, turn them loose. This might seem like a contradiction to the previous point, but it’s not. While you should open the doors of your house and your heart, wait until they knock. The father in our story didn’t go looking for his son. He left him alone, so that in God’s time he would return. In many cases, it’s best not to call your son, don’t send your daughter messages, or e-mails. She knows where you are; your son is the one who left, not you. Don’t tread where only the Holy Spirit can work. Don’t try to do the work of the Holy Spirit. Give Him all the space He needs.
C. When your children don’t call you blessed, bathe them in prayer. Commit your children to the Lord many times a day. Don’t you think this father prayed throughout the day for his son? I think he did. I believe he prayed believing, and he expected the Lord to answer his prayers, because apparently he knew the moment he returned. Probably every day he went out to watch the road that led to his house, and while he watched, he prayed. While he walked, he prayed. While he ate, he prayed. While he worked, he prayed. You don’t have time to pray? Do it while…every time you go to the bathroom, kneel down and pray for your child. Pray while…you wash dishes; while…you iron; while….you wait for the red light, or in the doctor’s office. While…you make your bed. If he’s far away from you, ask the Lord to put good people in his path, a Christian, a pastor, a missionary who will encourage your son or your daughter. Ask Him to keep all the bad people out of his path, all the negative people far from him. Pray believing that God will bring your child back to Him. I believe that father prayed believing. He wasn’t surprised when he saw him, even though he was still afar off.
D. It may sound strange, but sometimes our children don’t call us blessed because of our own sins. Do you have unconfessed sins? Is there something that isn’t consistent with your life at church and at home? Are you real? Are you transparent? Are you consistent? Do you criticize the preacher, and then call on him to counsel your daughter? If you criticize him in front of your children, why do you expect them to listen to him? If you’re a young mother, your children haven’t turned their backs on God. But prepare yourself for the day when you may be shedding tears over a rebellious son, a daughter who has dishonored you, who doesn’t call you blessed. I never prepare my lessons with a haughty spirit. I’ve never considered myself the authority on child rearing. Quite the contrary, when I prepare my lessons, most of the time it’s because I need to apply what I teach. Once a year I take spiritual inventory on Mother’s Day. When my children were small, I asked the Lord to show me anything that could be a hindrance for my children to serve Him. But now that they’re married, I still ask Him to help me to be the mother in law my sons in law need in order to be the husbands and fathers my daughters and grandchildren need them to be. I ask Him to help me to be the example of what a mother in law should be to my daughters in law, so that they can be the wives and mothers my sons and grandchildren need them to be. Every morning I pray this prayer for myself: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23, 24.