-Pastor Robbie Cheuvront
Remember when you were a teenager, and you thought your parents were the dumbest people on planet earth? And remember how they embarrassed you at every turn, wanting a hug when you were around your friends, or yelling, “I love you!” as you got out of the car to go to school? I remember pulling the collar of my coat up over my face and trying to ignore them, as I made my way into the building, hoping no one heard or saw what just happened.
Funny thing happened, though, when I turned eighteen and moved out. Suddenly, my parents got smart! Go figure. Who would have thought?
Yesterday, as I dropped my son off at school, I watched him get out of the car and turn to go in the building. I called after him, “Cason, I love you. Have a great day, buddy!” He turned around and smiled and said, “Love you too, Dad.” Immediately, I was drawn back to those days of my youth when I would avoid that very conversational exchange.
Here’s the thing: I know that as he gets older, he’ll probably do the same thing I did. I think it’s just pre-wired into the DNA of every teenager. But it got me to thinking. The older he gets, the more I turn into my father. I find myself saying the same things he used to say to me: “Because I said so… Go ask your mother… etc.”
I guess it’s inevitable. We do, as we become older, tend to model our parenting after our own parents. Here’s the thing though. I have a part of my father/son relationship that I do not wish to model. I’ll qualify this by saying two things. One, my dad is an incredible man. I love him with all of my heart. And two, the status of what I’m about to go into has changed (thank God!).
See, my father never raised me in church. He grew up in church, but he got burned by a church, pretty badly too, to the extent that he refused to set foot in one ever again. Thankfully, my grandparents, who lived next door, took it upon themselves to drag me and my sister with them to church every Sunday. And now, I see how my family missed out on a lifetime’s worth of blessing by being disobedient, not fellowshipping with other believers. Fortunately, God finally got tired of my dad being disobedient and changed all of that. Unfortunately, it took my grandmother passing away for it to happen. But praise God! My father now, not only goes to church every Sunday, but he’s involved in his church. He even plays on the worship team and sings. And he’s completely surrendered his will to God’s. Yay God!
The point is this: I find myself wondering, what would my responses have been to my dad in those times as a teenager, had I been engaged in a church along side him all those years? What would our relationship dynamic have been, if he had been as involved in the church back then, leading me and our family in that way? Would I still have acted like he and my mom carried the bubonic plague? Perhaps. But I see how my children respond to all they are being taught in church, how Jesus is being woven into the very fabric of their though processes, and how they get excited about going to church and learning more about God. And it saddens me that my dad never had the opportunity to experience that. And I wonder, would it have taken so long for me to come to Christ, had I grown up in that environment? All I know is I’m so grateful that God found me, despite the fact my parents didn’t raise me in an environment where He was preached and glorified. And my dad will even tell you to this day, he wishes he could go back and change that.
So as I continue to turn into my earthly father, I strive to be transformed into the man my Heavenly Father desires me to be. I pray that as I seek God’s wisdom in leading my family, he’ll bless me with teenagers that don’t give me the doo-doo face when I tell them I love them. At least if they do, I’ll know I gave them the proper foundation, so that (hopefully) that doo-doo face will be followed by the Holy Spirit’s conviction!
I say all of that to say this. Do not underestimate the power of God’s word. Proverbs 22:6 says, Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (ESV). My own dad is living proof of that. But don’t just take that for granted. Don’t just assume that bringing your kids to church will save them. My grandmother spent countless hours, outside of church, talking with me, preaching Christ to me, encouraging me to seek God, and praying for me. God sovereignly used her to prepare me for the moment when He would bring me to the end of myself and call upon Christ. I can only imagine the joy she must have felt the day I told her that I had given my life to Christ, knowing that she had labored on my behalf and God has answered her prayer.
Don’t be like my dad. Don’t miss out on the joy of seeing your child profess Christ and change his eternity, and not be the one who led him there. Don’t allow someone else to take that away from you, by letting them do the very thing God expects you to do. Let’s face it. You’re probably going to turn into your own parents, for better or for worse. But don’t let that be your final destination. We have a Holy example of who we are ultimately supposed to be like. And that is Jesus.