Today I am reminded that our children do not live in the vacuum of their upbringing. Even if you think you brought your kids up a certain way, people go astray. They live as individuals in the world who ultimately choose their own path…
31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 32 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his predecessors had done.
5 In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls,
but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.
6 Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
I am sad today. I’m sad for all the parents whose children are choosing different paths than the godly direction they received. If this isn’t your experience, you likely know someone who experienced this. You train up your children in the way they should go, pouring your life into their preparation for adulthood, and then they make a series of decisions which take them far from the destination charted in their upbringing.
I think Solomon’s words are truth on the front end, yet there are competing factors on the back end. In other words, we train up our children so that they will not turn from the Lord later. Unfortunately, our children do not live in the vacuum of their upbringing. When we stop dropping them off and picking them up, they start driving themselves where they want to go… And Isaiah says in chapter 53, they go where we all, like sheep, go. People go astray.
People go astray.
That’s the human condition. And so when/if your child goes astray, you have a choice to make in terms of your response. You can make their situation about you and how disappointed you are after doing so much for them for so long (we didn’t raise them to do that). Or you can understand that they live as individuals in the world who ultimately choose their own path. And then recognize, assuming you did do the best you could as a parent, that you handed the baton to them. Your leg of the journey is done.
Yes, keep praying, keep influencing, keep supporting and directing if they will listen. Yet your leg of the journey is done. You move from running the race for them to being their coach, their fans, their trainer, their medic. Whatever it is, it is not making the call on the field in terms of how much effort will be exerted or in what direction. They choose that…
How did we get here?
Well, I find Jehoahaz to be one of the most disappointing characters in the entire Bible. Why? He is King Josiah’s son. King Josiah reigned for 31 years. Josiah had Jehoahaz when he was 16 years old, and Jehoahaz had 23 years to watch and follow his father as King. He had 23 years to be trained up in the way he should go.
Josiah was the King who heard the word of God and then brought the entire kingdom into alignment with God’s word, eliminating all the idolatry and sinful worship in the land. Jehoahaz was like the PK (Pastor’s Kid) or MK (Missionary’s Kid) who goes astray. You wonder, how could this happen?
It all comes down to our personal answer to Jesus when he says, “Follow Me…” (Matthew 4:19). Will we follow him? Whether we have 23 years of training from the most godly parents imaginable, or whether we are hearing about Jesus for the first time, our decision is personal and it’s life-altering. Follow Jesus or go our own ways.
No parent or friend or anyone can make that decision for us. We have to make it for ourselves…