I was once in a meeting where the minister encouraged the people to write down their burdens and lay them on the cross. I wrote down “My children”, not because they were burdens, but because I knew that I had to lay my aspirations for them at the foot of the cross. Just like Hannah of old, I gave each little Samuel to the Lord.
I had no preparation for what lay ahead.
I had spent over twenty years researching family life, and observing families and I thought I had discovered a fail-proof method of child-training. But I was mistaken. My teens didn’t turn out to meet my expectations. As a result I became frustrated, disappointed and angry. I felt like a failure. Here was I, a woman who held seminars on Christ-like mothering and my own children were flirting with the world. I felt like throwing in the towel.
While I ventured through the valley of despair, hemmed in on every side, I realised there was no way out except forward. There was no use looking back, as I admit I had made mistakes (haven’t we all?). There was no escape route as my role as a mother is indispensable. I just had to press on. Alone it would be far too difficult, but with Jesus I knew I could continue. So I continued to cry out to God. He then showed me something that made me uncomfortable but it brought me to my knees in absolute brokenness. He told me that the root of my frustration, disappointment and anger was misplaced pride. I was upset at how I would look as a parent! I asked God for forgiveness and in the secret place, I sat at His feet and He taught me how to trust Him for the lives of our offspring. I want to share the lessons He’s been teaching me , trusting they’ll encourage your heart too.
I came to realise that although we may train our children aright, at the end of the day the cliché “God has no grandchildren” is absolutely true! There comes a time in every person’s life when they have to choose for themselves.We can fool ourselves into thinking if we follow a certain child-rearing method, that our children will become perfect. Such idealism underestimates the blessedness of Calvary! We can regulate their behaviour by discipline, but such behaviour modification will not guarantee them a home in heaven. We should never expect our children to be perfect outside of any other way than through the salvation, which is found only through Jesus Christ. All our children need to come to the realization they are sinners in need of a Saviour.
In the film THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, I tearfully watched Mary longing to intervene as Jesus made His way to Calvary, but she couldn’t. She’d faithfully done her part, and had to stand back and let events unfold according to God’s plan. The prophecy that a “sword will pierce her heart” was fulfilled that day. As our older children make their journey to the foot of the cross, there comes a time when we as mothers can not do anything but stand back and pray. The anguish, is as if a sword is piercing our hearts, but like Mary, we need to step back and watch God’s plan unfold in their lives.
All through the years their sons were rebelling, Billy and Ruth Graham stood beside their sons and continued to show unconditional love. “Through it all,” writes Billy, “God did not let us lose hope.” Billy and Ruth never found a quick-fix formula for winning wayward sons to the Lord. They relied on prayer, and faith their Heavenly Father. “We trusted the Lord to bring the children through somehow in His own way in due time,” recalls Billy. “On a day-to-day basis, however, we muddled through. But God was faithful.”
Jim and Carol Cymbala’s teenage daughter turned her back on the God. Although their hearts were breaking, Jim and Carol continued ministering to the people of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City. Some people think that Carol wrote the song “He’s Been Faithful” after her daughter’s return to God, but she didn’t. She wrote it before! Carol refers to it as “a song of hope born in the midst of my pain.” While hurting deeply, Carol said that her song “became like a balm to my heart, strengthening me once again.” When their prodigal returned home and fell to her knees begging forgiveness, the truth of Psalm 119:90 became real to Carol: God is faithful not just to our generation, but to all generations!
David Wilkernson shared in one of his sermons about his son Garry. “Then one day my oldest son, Gary, came home from school, sobbing. He went straight to his room and threw himself on his bed. When I asked what was wrong, he answered, ‘Dad, I don’t believe there’s a God. It’s all a myth.’ I knew then that all the love in the world couldn’t resolve this kind of demonic attack. And simply being able to communicate with my son wasn’t going to take care of the problem. I couldn’t merely tell myself, ‘This is just a phase. Gary will grow out of it. He’s a good boy. And he knows I love him.’ No, I had to come to grips with what I saw going on before me: Satan was trying to rob my son of his genuine, fervent faith. I had seen Gary give his life to Jesus at age five, and I knew his faith was precious. Now the enemy wanted that faith. And he was trying to use doubt and unbelief to destroy it. Indeed, Satan was aiming for the very nerve centre of our family: our confidence in Jesus. I knew I had only one option. I went to my prayer closet. And I closed the door behind me, got on my face, and settled in for battle. I determined, ‘Satan, you’re not going to have my son.’ From that day forward, I cried out to the Lord on Gary’s behalf. I pleaded, ‘Lord, keep my boy from the wicked one.’ The change that eventually took place in Gary didn’t happen overnight, or within a week, or even months. He still battled with confusion. But the time came when Gary’s confidence in Jesus was restored. And if you’ve read my messages for any length of time, you know that Gary has served in full-time ministry since he was a teenager. He has been a devoted lover of Jesus. And for the past year, I’ve had the privilege of preaching alongside him to gatherings of other ministers.”
I write with passion because I was a rebellious teen. For several years my life was like a yoyo. One day I’d try very hard to be a Christian and the next I would be off doing my own thing in defiance to God. But I had praying parents, and at the age of 16, one night in my own room the conviction of Holy Spirit rested so strongly upon me I knew it was time to make things right between me and my Maker. That was 29 years ago and I have never once looked back.
Since the Bible clearly states that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23 ), I believe there is only one full proof method of dealing with it – and it’s on our knees. We will need to wrestle against principalities and powers, earnestly praying with the authority of the name of Jesus. You don’t have to be a spiritual giant to undertake this form of prayer. The words of an old hymn says “Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his knees.” You do however, need to have your life right with God, or else your prayers will not penetrate the heavenlies.
Hudson Taylor’s mother was 80 miles away from home, when she left the table with a strong urge to pray for her son. Hour after hour passed while that mother was on her knees, until her heart was flooded with the joyful assurance that her prayers were heard and answered. Meanwhile Hudson was at home looking through his father’s library and came across an interesting tract. Struck by the phrase THE FINISHED WORK OF CALVARY, he sat down and read it. As mother was praying – Hudson was gloriously converted. When Mrs. Taylor returned home, her son told her of his conversion.
My final paragraph has yet to be written. But it will be, because God is faithful, and I have complete confidence in Him – so watch this space.
PS: Not long after this was written, each of my daughters, confirmed to me (individually, with no knowledge of this article) their choice to follow Jesus for the rest of their lives. God may not have any grandchildren but all of my offspring are His children. Hallelujah. Their journey may different than what I expected, but by God’s grace, – HE WHO BEGAN A GOOD WORK IN THEM WILL COMPLETE IT.
Mrs Brent (Delwyn) McAlister
Wife, Mother, Homemaker,
Editor: KEEPERS AT HOME;
Director ABOVE RUBIES ministry Australia;
Author (in that order!)
P O Box 5128, Gladstone, Queensland 4680 Australia