2 Chronicles 21-24, Psalm 77
Many parents focus on all the wrong things when they make the decision to have a child. All their focus is on what gender they hope for and how cute they will be. This task focused parenting tends to remain throughout the life of their child. They focus on getting them to sleep through the night, then on potty training. When they get to school it is about fitting in, passing the next test, excelling in whatever activity they do. Then we send these thoroughly unprepared children off to college for these largely atheistic set of teachers to then mold our children and to prepare them for life. Even when kids don't get it right they are pushed through the system furthering their unpreparedness for life. Leaving them back in school might make them feel bad which would hurt their "self-esteem" so is often frowned upon. Even some of the medical students and residents are pushed through and graduate rather unprepared and insecure only to now be in a position to actually kill someone. We should not beat ourselves up when we have tended to the entirety of the child we raise, for they are not a blank slate and even when all is done right in God's eyes they can still grow apart from God. But as parents we must all realize that the task before us starts with their first breath and doesn't end until our last breath. Our role is to raise our children to love God with all of their heart, everything else is secondary.
We are presented with a number of examples in today's reading. Though Jehoshaphat was a good king, we read only a single verse as to why his successor was chosen in 2 Chronicles 21:3, "Their father gave them great gifts of silver and gold and precious things, with fortified cities in Judah; but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn." We don't know if Jehoshaphat spoiled his children materially and ignored raising them as children of God, all we know from the remainder of the chapter is that Jehoram was evil and his birth order should not have been enough to make him king. We next read of Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram, who only reigned one year and was evil. We read in 22:3, "He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother advised him to do wickedly." So in this case the poor result was a direct consequence of bad parental influence. Lastly we read of a good king who turned bad. Joash was raised by the good priest, Jehoiada. While under his influence he did wonderful things in the name of God and was successful as king. Unfortunately, we read in 24:17-18 of his later years, "Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass.
So often my patients talk of their children with a sort of hands off approach. They will not impose their faith on them (many of them don't have faith but follow the traditions of a religion), but make the statement that they will allow them to decide for themselves when they get older. How do we feel that is going to turn out when God was not instilled into them when they were young and we pass them off to a university system which according to one study is 70% atheistic. We wonder why our society is so messed up, but when did God ever say that parenting stops at the age of 18. If we have made a mistake and have not raised our children with a desire to honor God, it's not too late as long as both of you are alive. Don't say that they won't listen unless they say they won't listen. If they don't listen the first time, life is long and approach it maybe differently the next time. But as parents we should not stop until our last breath. Some children will raise their hand and threaten us to stop. Others may choose not to listen and that is their free will to do so. We as parents must not feel guilt when our children don't choose to follow God despite our best efforts, but we must all look in the mirror and ask ourselves whether or not we indeed have given it our best effort. Even belonging to a great church with great youth ministries never relinquishes our responsibility to those ministries, we as parents accept that role when our child takes that first breath.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: