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Monday, December 31, 2012

Road Maps

The word that strikes fear into every owner of a GPS.  Recalculating can mean "traffic jam up ahead" or "you've taken a wrong turn" or "I am a computer, not a nice lady, so I am blipping and you are going to end up in an corn field."  When my husband was in the military and we were stationed in Germany, our GPS, after "recalculating" several times, took us through a narrow, 2 lane mountain pass in the Austrian Alps with few railings and daredevils on speed motorcycles.  Let me just say that we learned from that experience.

I no longer trust our GPS completely.  I look up directions on GoogleMaps, Map Quest, and an actual, physical, paper map.  Yes, we have learned that a GPS is not always the best guide to get to an unknown place.  And even after so much planning, there may be detours, road work, or accidents.

Raising children is a little like that.  We have what we think is a high tech road map to bring them to some kind of success.  Today's parents, more than ever, plan their children's future.  They plan the classes they will take, beginning them at an early age and enrolling them, sometimes hours a week, in sports or dance or music or perhaps all three. I can look back at my own mistakes as a mom and see that, at times, I was focused on the wrong kind of success for our girls.  What do we define as success for our grown children?  Education?  Talents?  A profession that brings in a lot of income?  Or character, selflessness, godliness?

Do we give more encouragement when our children perform well and look good?  Or do we let them know we appreciate qualities of justice, compassion and mercy?  In the words of Jesus, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" Mark 8:36

Proverbs says, "Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

What does it mean to "train up a child" and what, exactly, is "the way that he should go?"  Here is the ultimate road map for raising kids, one that will not steer us wrong.

First and foremost, it had to do with the culture of the land which involved the instruction of godliness.  Secondly, the Hebrew roots of the words give the general idea that each person has a life planned by God, a "bend" if you will, for what he or she is to do in life.  Clark's Commentary on the Bible puts it this way:

"Dedicate, therefore, in the first instance, your child to God; and nurse, teach, and discipline him as God's child, whom he has intrusted to your care.  These things observed, and illustrated by your own conduct, the child (you have God's word for it) will depart from the path of life."

Join me as I ask God to give me the wisdom and strength to live a life of character, selflessness, and godliness and to encourage our children and grandchildren.  I pray that He would show me areas in my own life example that hinder them from seeing, seeking and giving the love of Jesus.  This parenting thing is not easy at any stage.  How thankful I am for a God of grace who works through me and works apart from me!