18 August, 2009

Comfort For Human Parents, Well Odd Human Parents

Well, this odd human parent takes comfort from this passage. Your mileage may vary.

Num 14:30-33 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, [concerning] which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But [as for] you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.

My kids are both grown. They're out in the world making independent decisions using the tools my ex and I gave them, and the tools they found on their own, and the tools they've made up along the way. All of their decisions make sense. They make sense for the kinds of people they are with the kinds of background they have, and they make sense in light of my mistakes as a parent.

For the record, both are really interesting and fun people, and one is really doing well by all objective measures. Both have rejected Christ, though, and that's where my stomach just ties up in knots.

I find a thin gruel of comfort in the truth the Lord spoke to Ezekiel:

Eze 14:12-20 ¶ The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver [but] their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD. If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts: [Though] these three men [were] in it, [as] I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.

Or [if] I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men [were] in it, [as] I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.

Or [if] I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, [were] in it, [as] I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall [but] deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

There are things beyond the control even of such men as were commended by God. Maybe such men as me cannot be expected to deliver their own children. Maybe it's no surprise that there are so many of us out here, parents whose children have walked away from the truth. Maybe this disaster is not because we're all Eli's who turned a lazy and blind eye to their children's works.

It's thin comfort and discouraging hope, but as I collapse before the Lord it speaks to my heart. Maybe there's a thin hope the Lord will not reject me for my parenting.

The Israelites, though, they received golden words of comfort from the Lord Himself. Oh sure, the nuggets of gold were wrapped in images of their rotting carcases left unburied in the wastelands, but the gold is there. The Lord promises to His failed, rebellious, bitter children that their children are still in His hands. They will suffer 40 years of wandering they should never have known, but they will inherit the land and the blessing. And their children will grow up in a fruitful land, abundant in the presence of the Lord.

I no longer feel superior to those Israelites who grumbled in the desert. I once did. I was wrong. I sit here now, after decades of the Lord's care, and wonder whether I'll have meat to eat. I've never seen the heavens rain down manna, but I've seen the Bread of Heaven come down, broken, and raised again. I know the grumblings of those Israelites are less shameful than my own. I also know I failed to give my children all of the good gifts of the Lord, even merely those good gifts from the Lord which I received.

This is not a post about my failures, and I don't want anyone to tell me I "done good." I did and I didn't. I don't judge myself when there's a Judge Who will one day separate the works of my flesh from those of my soul and my spirit. I will learn from Him all the many things His grace covered. I don't know in what I failed or didn't, but I'm not seeking affirmation. I know there is much to regret.

I find comfort because Numbers 14 tells me my failures will not drive the Lord from my children. They may unnecessarily wander 40 long years on my account, but He will receive them. He is faithful. It's one thing to know it, but it's a comfort to read His unwavering promise.

He is our only foundation.


DugALug said...


Amen! There are numerous promises in the Bible, but nothing compares with the desire of parents to have their children walk the Lord.

God has not completed the work in any of us (Thank God!), so don't give up hope.

God can turn their hearts... in spite of us. I stand praying for that to happen in your children's lives.

God Bless

Kansas Bob said...

Always comforts me to know that God does not have grandchildren. My kids are at different places with the Lord.. both dealing with the reality of being raised in a fundamentalist Christian home.. their relationship with God is their business not mine because they do not have a heavenly grandfather :)

My relationship with them was frayed and broken but began to immensely improve when I realized that my job is to love them unconditionally and to not judge them.

Hope the weekend is a great one Kevin!

Margaret M. Irons said...

Oh, man, can I relate. We were 20 years in our high-demand cultic gathering, twenty years when our children were growing up from babies through high school. One of them follows the Lord, the other two do not, after much thought on the subject. But their view of who God is and what it means to be a Christian are based on the toxicity of their childhood environment.

Nevertheless, when we dedicated them to the Lord at birth, God said, "I will be their God." They may have given up on the distorted image of God as they saw him growing up, but He has not given up on them.

In our experience, Kansas Bob has hit the nail on the head. Our job now is to distance ourselves from that false image of god, which was a demanding and judgmental god, and to love them unconditionally, as the covenant God does. He is faithful, and He is able to guard what we have entrusted to Him.

Thanks for your post, Kevin.

Kansas Bob said...

"distance ourselves from that false image of god"

Great comment and thought Margaret.. gotta wonder why we think we know better than our kids.

Lynne said...

I am that most blessed of women -- both my children are walking with the Lord, but that just makes me know more deeply that it was nothing I did, since there is no magic formula. But I also know that the desire for our children's salvation is a holy desire, that we can pray for with confidence, remembering that the One who is perfect love loves our children even more than we do, and knows best what path each one of them needs to walk to come home to Him.
meanwhile, as we pray, we love them, and we walk before our kids with humble faith and honest repentance, simply reporting our journey notes from our present place on our pilgrimage