Dan Coy - Husband; Father (NEW Father-in-law!); Youth Leader; Live God Loud Ministries
"Dad and Mom, I'm not going to live like you do." To hear these words from your child is life altering I'm sure. Probably one of the toughest realities to come to grips with as a parent is your own offspring not having or accepting your same core values and then watching them embark on life's ocean with no spiritual rutter to guide them. I have worked with and heard stories of hurting, frustrated parents who I don't wish to bring any more pain too, but maybe some hope and comfort through God's promise.
A lot of parents in recent history have failed to build a consistent, Biblical foundation in their child in the home, school and church settings. Statistics have shown that a great majority of "Christian" households are getting the college age "wake up call" by their child seemingly walking away from their roots of a Biblical faith in Christ having been influenced and impacted by the teachers of their world view. So, how does a parent grapple with all of this?
For the parent that has done their best to instill a Christian worldview in their child, I believe that the age old scriptural promise is still a great place to anchor your heart : "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart" Proverbs 22:6 NKJV
I firmly believe the God fearing, prayerful parent can take great comfort in knowing that God's promise remains true for their wayward child. So in this case, pray continually that God will restore as only He can, because believe it or not, He cares more than you do about them. I believe that showing genuine interest in their life is really important as a parent of a restless young adult. We often under estimate the other powerful, scriptural truth that " Good understanding giveth favor but the way of the transgressor is hard" Proverbs 13:15 They are carrying a heavy load and looking for relief! Let's be a part of the solution which is getting them focussed back on Christ and "understanding" that His way is best. The third Biblical concept is especially hard for fathers to get and that is "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" Ephesians 6:4 NIV. Dan Coy's version reads: Dads, please don't say I told you so just so you can be right again... Use common sense..... let God do His best work in our weakness of knowing we can't really change anything eternally.
I certainly don't want to make light of such a heavy matter but we sometimes are the problem in the child coming back. So many parents try to "guilt trip" their child and forget they have not followed your way for a reason....it may just be that this parent has not lead their child to follow Jesus but only adhere to the family policy or bylaws. Again, the spiritual glue that brings a lost, searching child back to faith in Christ is only "The Truth" that is embedded into their hearts and an unconditional love from a parent.
The second group of parents may have a lot of different fragments and shades of similarity in their story. The parent who has not focussed on their child's Biblical worldview or did not realize its' importance may have a tough time forgiving themselves and really struggle to find a balanced approach to moving through. As rugged as it may seem, this parent must accept the responsibility for this negligence and repent of this lifestyle and ask for God's forgiveness. Then, again, I believe genuine interest shown in a child's eternal value and their life "right now" is key.
First, ask this child for forgiveness and let them know of your true repentance to God and then ask them if you could share what you have become aware of in providing for their spiritual formation. If the parent has any relationship at all with their child this will be very impacting, if not begin building today as allowed. Along with prayer, true heartfelt repentance and a new path of trying to share your new findings with this loved child will be a way God can move in their heart again.
Lastly, the Word tells us "and if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me" John 12:32 KJV. While this reference certainly pointed to the Savior on the cross, it has the same importance and application on this side as well.....if we point them to Jesus and His provision while that lost child is on their miserable, yet sometimes fun, spiritual search...I believe that many children will find a comfort in this supernatural plan and run back to the safety of God's grace even though their family has had a huge gap in their training and upbringing.
While there is no perfect science or magical fix to winning a " lost child" back, we must trust the One who made us and put one foot in front of the other in full trust of His sovereign, redemptive plan! We can see God do mighty things as we trust fully in His plan to bring a lost child back into relationship with Him.