Summary: As parents we have an awesome responsibility, but we also have an perfect example in our Heavenly Father who trains us to live for Him.
Once a Child…Always a Child
Mark Twain was asked his opinion on the raising of children. With his typical wit Twain offered this homey philosophy: “Things run along pretty smoothly until your kid reaches thirteen. That’s the time you need to stick ‘em in a barrel, hammer the lid down nice and snug, and feed ‘em through the knothole. And then, about the time they turn sixteen, plug up the knothole!”
While Twain’s advice might appear to simplify the struggles of parenting, it is of absolutely no help whatsoever, because there is simply not enough barrels to go around, and even if there were you couldn’t keep a teenager in a barrel if you wanted to! If know! I’ve got teenagers!
Today we have taken time in our service to dedicate two precious babies to the Lord. We have accepted the responsibility along with their parents to make a positive spiritual impact in their lives for the Lord. What that means to me is, “we must do more than just push a few good thoughts through the knothole…we must commit to pointing them to the Lord each and every day.
Chuck Swindoll in his book, Growing Wise in the Family Life writes:
When it comes to rearing children, developing a strong home where happiness and harmony can flourish, there is a primary starting point: knowing your child. This is the most profound insight, the single most helpful secret I can pass on to you on the subject… Knowing your child takes time, careful observation, diligent study, prayer, concentration, help from above, and yes, wisdom… The two essential ingredients are desire and time. If you really want to know, and if you’re really willing to invest the time, God will honor your efforts. He will enable you to know your child.
This morning I want us to focus on a verse that has been quoted many times regarding parents and children. I put this verse on the dedication certificate that I gave the parents a few moments ago. It is a quote from the proverbs of Solomon found in chapter 22 verse 6:
“Train a child in they way they should go, and when they are old they will not turn from it.”
I want us to look at that verse in some detail today. We are going to look at it from the perspective of parents with the responsibility of raising children, and also as children who are been raised by a Heavenly Father. Let me walk with you through this verse and share some thoughts with you about it.
“Train a child…”
The word used for “train” was a word that described the placing of a rope in the mouth of a horse in order to “train” it. It had as its idea the breaking of a wild spirit, bringing it under control. The word was also used to describe and interesting action on the part of a Hebrew midwife immediately after the birth of a baby. The midwife would hold the newborn in her arms, dip her finger into a bowl of crushed grapes or dates and then touch her finger to the gums and roof of the newborns mouth. By doing this she would “train” the newborn to begin the sucking action necessary to nurse from its mother.
“…In the way they should go…”
The first reaction we probably have to this statement is that it means, “In the way we think they should go.” That’s really not what it means. What the phrase really means is that we should train a child to find “their” way, to discover “who” and “what” God wants them to be. To follow the path that God has already laid out for them based on the talents and characteristics that He has blessed them with.
If there is one thing that I have learned about raising kids it is that there are very few hard fast rules that can be applied to all kids. Why? Because all kids are different. When Brittany was a baby we never had a hard time getting her to go to bed. By the time she was two we could say to her, “Brittany its bedtime,” and she would head off to bed on her own. When Blake Jr. came along we discovered that saying, “Blake its bedtime,” meant absolutely nothing to him! It still doesn’t! Now a days when I say, “Blake its bedtime,” he says, “Goodnight dad,” and I GO TO BED! No two kids are alike and so we must realize the responsibility to help them discover the way God has for each of them to go.
“…And when they are old they will not turn from it.”
Do you know what “old” means according to this verse in Hebrew? Literally, it means, “When they are old enough to grow a beard.” Since I hope that my daughters never get old enough to “grow a beard” we should see that it means when they reach adulthood. If we want our children to stay on the “right” path, we need to be willing to help them find the path that is “right” for them. If we do that, if we as Chuck Swindoll said, “have that desire…and invest that time…” then we can claim this promise.