I have written this particular post because of something that happened this week, concerning one of my son’s.
There is a cute, animated movie by Dreamworks called, “How To Train A Dragon”. It is about a Norse lad who learns that training a dragon to work with him is more enjoyable and beneficial than training himself to fight and kill a dragon.
My father was in the military so I am quite familiar with the concept of “training exercises”. He was also an athlete in a variety of sports, which required regular training. I “trained” as a nurse, one son is a “trained” carpenter and the other is a “trained” heavy equipment operator.
When our children are small, we “potty train” them and put “training” wheels on their first bicycle. The parent/child relationship is an ongoing training exercise. The parent is the “trainer” (or certainly should be) and the child is the “trainee”. The parent “trains” by teaching, whereas the child “trains” by learning and practicing what has been taught.
We train our children to learn many things. Hopefully, the things in which we are training them will help them to become happy, healthy and successful individuals. But more important than training their physical, intellectual and mental skills, we need to train their spiritual skills. God tells parents:
Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; …
Now, I have heard it taught that the above scripture verse refers to helping a child to develop their natural gifts and talents. While this is a wonderful thing to do, I believe that the concept is taking that scripture out of context. Many of the proverbs give practical counsel on how to live wisely, but I believe that the over-arching purpose of Proverbs is to develop a person’s character – in fact, to develop a Godly character.
As parents, I believe that our primary objective should be to “train up” our children to have Godly characters. To do this, we must teach them about the character of God. We must teach our children about God’s great love, grace, mercy, patience, forgiveness, compassion, and kindness as well as His holiness, righteousness and justice. We must teach them about Jesus, who was the fleshly manifestation of God’s character, and we must encourage them to follow Jesus’ example. I believe that this is what God meant when he told us to “train up a child in the way he should go”.
As an earnest, Christian mother, I understood the importance of “training up” my children in the ways of the Lord. I taught them from the Bible, and how to read it for themselves. I taught them how to pray and to pray regularly. The way in which Jesus conducted his life was held up to them as THE standard for their practical and spiritual lives and I disciplined them, usually with God’s Word, when they strayed from that standard.
I invested a lot of time and energy in the labour of love (and it was out of love) of training up my children in the knowledge and ways of God, so it was with great heartache that I watched both my sons abandon their “first love” (Rev. 2:4) and walk away from almost everything that I had taught them. My sorrow came from knowing the consequences of such actions. Where would they turn when they went through difficult times (and difficult times they have been through!)? Where would they get hope and peace in the troubled times? Who would be their “very present help in times of trouble” (Ps. 46:1)?
During all these years, I have continued to pray that God would have mercy upon them and continue to call them back to Him. I have prayed that my sons would return to “their first love”. And I continued to talk to them about God’s love, grace and mercy and how He has answered prayers. Most of the time, they responded with “yah – but…”.
However, this week my oldest son told me that he has been praying again! Not only has he been asking God for wisdom and knowledge, my son has been thanking God for His help and provision during this particularly challenging time in his life. Can you just imagine what great music to my ears this news was? I was so filled with joy that I had to restrain myself from shouting “alleluia” right then and there (which may have prompted my son to hang up the phone). However, I could not keep the joy to myself so I had to fire off a quick email to some sisters-in-Christ who have been praying with me for my son. And of course, I had to write this blog.
It is wonderful to have one’s faith “pay off” and to see God’s promises manifest themselves. Sometimes (maybe more often then not) we wait a long time to see answer to prayer, and it may be that we may not live to see the fruit of our faith. But God’s word is ALWAYS true and we must trust in Him and in His faithfulness to bring about what He has promised.
This week, I have been blessed to see this truth beginning to come to pass. I followed God’s command to “train up my children in the way they should go” and He is bringing to pass the promise “and when they are old, they shall not depart from it”.
I encourage you who are Christian parents, to obey the command in the first part of the proverb and hold on in faith to the promise in the second part. And I pray that you will be able to enjoy watching your children walking with the Lord.