No Matter What, Forever and Always
The “if onlys” can get to a person, and they almost got to me the Sunday our youth pastor taught about how parents can help their children discover God. As he explained misconceptions to avoid and understandings parents should develop, I caught myself thinking, “If only we’d known this when our kids were young.” And when he got to the four application points –
- 1.Help kids recognize sin and their need for Christ to overcome it.
- 2.Pray for God’s grace in their lives.
- 3.Model your faith.
- 4.Look for signs of true transformation.
– well, it was all I could do to not “if only” away the rest of the day.
But, what’s past is past, and all the “if onlying” in the world won’t change how we parented our kids. So I pushed away the “if onlies” and concentrated on a different thought: Did our years as parents yield other application points to pass along to help other parents right now?
Lo and behold, the answer was yes. This point is known to parents who faithfully followed numbers 1 – 4, but whose children haven’t yet embraced God’s grace –
- 5.Love your child no matter what. Forever and always.
My commitment to this step was tested when our son moved across country, converted to a denomination foreign to us, and later entered the seclusion of a monastery.
“But they’ll only let us call him once a month, and we can only see him once a year,” I wailed to a wise man who didn’t use our son’s choices to judge our parenting success. “And he never gets to come visit us. What kind of relationship is that?”
“It’s the only one you’ve got,” answered our senior pastor, the master of practicality. “And you nurture it by calling once a month and visiting once a year.”
Following that advice, we loved our son. No matter what. Forever and always. One phone call a month. One visit a year. We also prayed for God’s grace in his life. We modeled our faith. We looked for signs of true transformation. After six long years, God worked a miracle and our relationship with our son was fully restored.
But not every family’s story has a happy ending. Some children remain estranged. Parents blame themselves for their kids’ choices. Though they parented well and faithfully, they feel like failures. Hurt piles upon hurt. And still, they are called to love their children. No matter what. Forever and always.
Impossible, but for this truth. Christ died for sinners. And he would have done so had all mankind rejected him and refused his grace. Because a man’s choice is not God’s failure. God’s love remains. His promises wait for sinners until their last breath.
He is a parent who loves his children. By his example, we can love our children. No matter what. Forever and always. Until our last breath.
Author: Jolene Philo (www.JolenePhilo.com)