But She Did All The Right Things....

"But she did all the right things and still...." These were the words that a woman at my Bible Study table said last week after we heard our speaker talk about the struggles her daughter is facing. "She did x, y and z and yet, this is still happening to her," my tablemate said.

Why does it still surprise some of us when children take a different path, make a different career choice than we thought they should or make choices that we wouldn’t ourselves choose?

Even amidst the chaos of last week's horrendous massacre in Aurora, the questionable choices of a current pop star or anyone with a prodigal child, we struggle to realize that children grow up and become people that we may or may not understand. They become individuals who are required to make their own choices.

Parents today are facing an epidemic. More and more parents are losing their own identity and purpose in their children all in the name of "being friends" their children. Most often, this is because we fail to recognize that children are a precious gift from the Lord - a gift that has a God-given purpose. They are not uniquely our own. Stormie Omartian puts it much more eloquently than I in her book titled, “The Power of a Praying Parent.” She says:

We don’t want to limit what God can do in our children by clutching them to ourselves and trying to parent them alone. If we’re not positive that God is in control of our children’s lives, we’ll be ruled by fear. And the only way to be sure that God is in control is to surrender our hold and allow Him full access to their lives….When we release our children into the Father’s hands and acknowledge that He is in control of their lives and ours, both we and our children will have greater peace.

Easier said than done, right?

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you” (emphasis mine). Scripture doesn't say that we, as parents, know the plans or that we are somehow allowed to manipulate those plans. No, instead it says that He knows the plans for each one us.

If I am being transparent, I am not sure I have overcome the fear part of being a parent. I lay awake at night sometimes worrying about the “what ifs” that could happen to my children. Sometimes these fearful moments are brought on by tragic events, an illness, an injury or some other event that gets my brain working. Would I have had the same faith as Moses’ parents? Would I have put my baby in a basket and sent him down the river to save his life or would I have thought, but what if a wave comes and turns the basket over and then my baby drowns or what if some psychopath finds my baby in the river instead…maybe he would have had a shot if he stayed with me?

Would I be as obedient as Hannah was? Would I have kept my vow to God? Hannah prayed and prayed to God for a baby and she said, “God, if you give me a son, then I will give him back to you.” (1 Samuel 1:11). After Samuel (which means “from God”) was weaned, she brought him to the temple to be raised by Eli, the priest. Honestly, I sometimes have a hard time letting my children go to school or summer camp…and don’t even go there about sending them off to school. Really? Hannah left her young baby with a priest to honor her vow to God. Amazing.
Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go." It doesn't say the way we want him to go or the way we think he should go. God created each one of us for a specific calling and purpose. God has blessed us with these precious children to raise them up in the way of the Lord, take care of them and nurture them. While they share our name in this world, they are still His creation.

We can’t cop out and say that we “did all the right things” if we don’t. But we also can’t take personal responsibility for everything our children do, especially once these children turn into adults. We will all stand individually before the judgment throne one day and give an account to God. God will not ask that mommy and daddy give an account for little Joe. No, Joe will be required to give his own account. We can do all the “right things” and yet, things can turn out so different. We need to pray and release our children to God. He is much wiser and definitely much bigger than we will ever be. He always knows what is best for His children and His plans are always “for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

The most important job we can do as believers for our children is to talk with them about the free gift of salvation offered through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nothing in this world can outweigh eternal separation from a parent or child because they have not believed in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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