Posted by: ramonamom | April 20, 2008

Question: “But why don’t biblical principles “work” for us?”

It can be easy for godly parents who follow God’s word in their daily lives to become frustrated when their kids just don’t seem to “get it” over the days, months, or even years.  This is not just a problem for parents of adopted children, as children raised in godly homes from birth can become rebellious at any point during their life.  Parents may begin to wonder why the principles taught throughout the Bible just didn’t “work” for them. 

An excellent book has been written on this very topic and the title of it is, _When Good Kids Make Bad Choices_, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jim Newheiser.  I first read this book during a long layover in an airport and it was the most fruitful layover I ever experienced.  My husband had been left at home with a son in full rebellion and my mother’s heart was broken as I traveled.  I wanted badly to be there, but my own parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and I had a large part in planning the family get together.  My husband had my full confidence and support in all decisions he made, yet it was difficult to leave him in such a challenging situation. 

It was in the midst of this pain that I read (pages 21-22),

“What we need to realize is that there are no promises that God will always and in every case save our children, no matter how diligent we are in directing them to the Lord we love… Perhaps you have trained up your children in the way that they should go, and yet they’re departing from it.  Don’t automatically assume that their rebellion is your fault.  Consider instead the fact that the Bible teaches there are three factors, not just one, that determines how a child turns out:

*  Parents are responsible to humbly honor the Lord and faithfully obey His Word in training their children.

* Children are responsible to humbly honor their parents and the Lord by responding in faithful obedience.

*  The Lord is ruling sovereignly over the lives of both parents and children, directing them according to His purposes.

As I read these words, and indeed, devoured the entire book during my layover, it finally began to dawn on me that we were not responsible for our son’s choices.  He had been in our home for over five years, adopted at the age of 13 from a Russian orphanage.  Certainly, we had made our share of mistakes, but we had been faithful to teach him God’s Word on a regular basis and to parent him according to biblical principles.  Yet, he still chose to rebel and break our house rules, time after time. 

It was written by Isaiah the prophet, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: “Children I have reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.  The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. “  Certainly, God was the perfect parent and His children (the nation of Israel) should have followed him in obedience.   But, they chose to rebel.  I knew we didn’t even come close to being perfect parents like God was to His people, but we followed His word to the best of our ability and prayed for our son diligently. 

While I was gone those few short days, my husband was forced to lock our son out of the house.  Anything less would have been total disregard for God’s Word and our responsibility to discipline our children in love.  Our son made some bad choices.  He broke our house rules many, many times.  Perhaps our biggest mistake with him had been waiting so long to follow through with the most difficult of consequences – putting him out of our home.  God’s commands were clear, though, as was our responsibility to follow them.  It was not that the biblical principles we had used in parenting him had not worked.  Rather, he had chosen to not fulfill his responsibility as our son.  He had chosen his path of rebellion and he would face the consequences. 

Our son remains out of our home and spiritually lost.  We continue to pray for him and reach out to him as we are able.  Recently we have seen him take some very small steps back towards our fold.  If he, like the prodigal son, chose to repent and come back seeking forgiveness, we would indeed recieve him with open arms and feast on the fatted calf.  In the meantime, we will do our best to remain parents faithful to God’s Word, no matter what the outcome. 

 

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