May 1, 2013
I poured my heart out to him, pleading with him to entrust his life to the One who will always love him. Letting him know that this is the most important decision that he will ever make. That no matter what happens in this brief life, he can be assured of a destination that will last for all of eternity. His response? A derisive, scoffing laugh, as if to say, “What a foolish, simple-minded woman you are.”
My heart broke, another chip to join the many splintered pieces that have slowly fallen off over the years. Moments later, in the privacy of my bedroom with the door locked, the tears flowed. “Why, Lord?!” I cried. “Why am I investing so much time and energy into something that apparently has no eternal results? What is the purpose of all my efforts if the children I love do not love You?”
There is undeniable truth in the Bible that proclaims: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”1 How I long to be able to say this of my children – all of my children, the ones who have lived with me for only a short time, as well as the ones who are still living with me after many years: to know that they are walking in the path of truth. My heart overflows with love for the One who first loved me, and I can think of no greater reward than for my children to share in the love and joy that can only come from Him.
However, that means that the opposite is sadly true: I have no greater heartache than to hear that my children are not walking in the truth. When they reject the One that is so dear to me.
I truly believe that every child who has come through my doors has been led here specifically by the hand of God. And while they are here, I welcome them, care for their many needs, nurture their individual talents and abilities, and most importantly, share God’s love with them. Of course I’m not a perfect parent. I have made many, many mistakes over the years, some that I deeply regret. And despite my vast experience, there are some bad habits and selfish behaviors that I still struggle with today! However, in spite of my imperfections, somehow God has chosen me to love and raise these children, and every day I pray for patience, strength and wisdom to do it well.
My influence in these children’s lives is so fleeting, from a few weeks to a few years. For most of them, they leave my home and I will never hear from them again. No further contact with them or their future families. I will never know what happens to them or who they become.
But for the teenage son who was adopted into my family all those years ago, I see firsthand the choices he is making and struggles he is having. How can he not see that God has a plan for his life? What if he never believes God’s truth? I can’t even bear the thought of spending eternity in heaven without him!
So what happens when this child I love chooses a different path than the one I had envisioned for him? When he refuses to accept a life of hope and joy that comes from a personal relationship with the Lord? It’s disheartening, and the temptation to give up is ever before me.
As I cry out to the Lord in desperation and futility, I sense His gentle words and I am reminded of His promise: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”2 Oh, how weary I can become sometimes! Weary of the daily battles and struggles! Even a hard-working farmer gets to enjoy the harvest that results from his hours of toil, right? So where is my “harvest?” Where is the grateful, God-fearing child I had hoped to raise?
The little phrase in that verse is so easy to overlook: “at the proper time.” Well, perhaps this isn’t the proper time yet. I’m basically pointing at this young man that God brought into my life, and saying, “Don’t You see him, Lord? Where are you? I’ve been trusting You for years to work in his life, but You remain silent. Please! Please, do something!”
Could it be that God has something else, something better in mind? Perhaps His silence doesn’t mean that He is ignoring my pleas and failing to keep His promises.3 Maybe His silence is really a beautiful demonstration of His patience, waiting for my son to mature. Waiting for my faith to mature.
I love the story of Moses, a man who obeyed God in spite of the difficulties, in the face of extreme adversity and impossible odds. Day after day he led the Israelites through the barren desert. Year after year he continued to be obedient to what God had called him to do, even though he never saw the promise fulfilled during his lifetime. He walked by faith.4
And now, centuries later in completely different circumstances, God is asking me to do the same thing. To press on. To walk by faith, knowing that I may not see the results of my efforts during my lifetime.
So with His promises before me and His Spirit inside me, I will strap on my own "sandals" in preparation for another day of being a mother. I will continue to remind myself of God’s promise that a harvest will result if I do not give up. I will remember that I am not my son’s rescuer. God is. And as hard as it is for me to believe, He loves my son infinitely more than I do!
I feel a sense of urgency, knowing that my son will soon be fully grown and no longer living in my home. My influence in his life is rapidly decreasing, and there will be fewer and fewer opportunities for these kinds of conversations. But one thing that will not change, no matter how old he gets, is my ability to petition the Lord on his behalf. I will continue to cry out to the Lord to please, please open my son’s eyes and touch his heart.
Until my last breath on the final day of my life, I will never, never stop praying for him. I will press on.
1. 3 John 1:4
2. Galatians 6:9
3. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
4. “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” (Hebrews 11:39)