Sept 15

Last week in this space I asked the question, “What does it take to raise children safely and faithfully in the kind of environment our communities and our families experience in 2013?” My answer was, “It takes a church.” I believe some of the thoughts from that article stimulated not only some thinking but also some very strong feelings about the concerns and the pain we feel for our children and our families today.

Our Daryl and Karen Thomas acknowledged exactly that as they responded at the invitation Sunday morning with a request for prayers for their family and in particular for their son Isaac. Our hearts go out to them, and our prayers continue to go up to the Father in their behalf.

Like you I have been thinking of their response and praying for their family and for all our children and families who face so very many challenges to establishing faith in their homes and in their kids. With that in mind here are a few related thoughts.

Our families have great needs. Certainly some of the most important ones are the needs for the help and encouragement and prayers of others. Daryl and Karen I think put to words what many of us have felt at times through the years of raising children, then watching them grow up and become more and more independent, sometimes deciding on faith and trust in God and obedience to His Word and His will. And sometimes not.

Our families feel a great sense of frustration at times. This frustration and pain and yes, even at times anger, is most keenly felt when even though you have been godly, loving, unselfish, faithful parents as best you could, and have done most everything “right” as best you knew how, yet it still doesn’t work out the way you had hoped and prayed it would. You hear that statement, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NKJV) And you forget that’s a proverbial statement, a general truth, and that it certainly has exceptions. And you forget that your child will have years of life experiences as an adult in which she or he will have many opportunities to turn to God. And you forget that people, yes even our children, are themselves ultimately responsible for their decisions and their choices in life. Instead all you feel is guilt over those times when you failed (which we all do), and pain over those things you could have done better (and we all have those too).

And so we all at times must wait for God to work in someone’s life, even when that someone is your child, or your spouse, or another friend or loved one. And wait is definitely a four-letter word. Yet we do not wait in frustration and fear only (though we feel those things at times). We wait with a knowledge that someone else is at work here, whose ways are above our ways, and who hurts and suffers and loves even more than we do when those we love turn, even temporarily, away from Him. Yes, we wait with faith and hope and even joy. We wait knowing that even when things seem so bleak there is still an underlying foundation of faith that the Creator, Father God in whom we trust knows all and will see us and all our loved ones through whatever is ahead of us.

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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