I found this "collection of thoughts" circulating around the social media called facebook. These are not verses of scripture from the Bible but they are lines of reflection from the heart of an unknown mother/author.
I’ve chosen to post this as Part 4 of my "Empty Nest" series to address a heart-cry of some Christian parents, but first, enjoy this heart-felt collection of thoughts and see if you agree.
"Reflection of a Mother"
I gave you life, but cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things, but I cannot make you learn.
I can give you directions, but I cannot be there to lead you.
I can allow you freedom, but I cannot account for it.
I can take you to church, but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong, but I cannot always decide for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes, but I cannot make you beautiful inside.
I can offer you advice, but I cannot accept it for you.
I can give you love, but I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to share, but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect, but I cannot force you to show honor.
I can advise you about friends, but cannot choose them for you.
I can advise you about sex, but I cannot keep you pure.
I can tell you the facts of life, but I can’t build your reputation.
I can tell you about drink, but I can’t say "no" for you.
I can warn you about drugs, but I can’t prevent you from using them.
I can tell you about lofty goals, but I can’t achieve them for you.
I can teach you about kindness, but I can’t force you to be gracious.
I can warn you about sins, but I cannot make you moral.
I can love you as a child, but I cannot place you in God’s family.
I can pray for you, but I cannot make you walk with God.
I can teach you about Jesus, but I cannot make Jesus your Lord.
I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you eternal life.
I can love you with unconditional love all of my life…and I will!
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As a devout Fundamental Independent Baptist missionary woman, wife, mother, and nana there is a point I would like to reflect on that I think it is also the heart-cry of many Christian parents... How to resolve the scripture admonition to... "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) with the reality that not all children raised in godly homes have followed, or will follow suit.
Christian parents have said:
If you were the parents of the biblical Samson, I’m guessing you would also want an answer to that question.
Added to the wonderment of Samson’s parents, we can also submit this list of other godly fathers, in the Bible, that might also have been asking that same question, "Why did my child depart from that which they were taught?"
10.) Joram, son of Jehoshaphat, murdered his six brothers. - II Kings 8:16-24
11.) Ahaz, son of Jotham, sacrificed his own children to idols. - II Kings 16:1-20
12.) Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, was Judah’s worst king. - II Kings 21:1-18
13.) Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, did evil in the sight of God. - II Kings 23:31-33
14.) Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, burned the scroll from Jeremiah. - Jeremiah 36:20-26
15.) Zedekiah, son of Josiah, persecuted Jeremiah. - II Kings 24:17-25:30; Jeremiah 37:1-21
In addition, Abraham was a godly, fatherly example to Lot, but Lot "vexed his righteous soul" through his own personal decisions, not because of any lack on Abraham’s part. (Genesis 12:4; 13:1, 5-18; 2 Peter 2:7, 8)
There are also these verses (among others) which express the anguish of the Lord with the Children of Israel:
Jeremiah 2:7 "And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination."
So... Why did these sons fall short of the instructions of their godly fathers? Why did these children of godly parents stray so far away from the path that was set before them? Why did the Nation of Israel rebel against God after all the Lord had done for them? Wasn’t the promise "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." a sufficient plan for rearing their children... for rearing our children?
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Here are some reflections from this mother’s heart:
1.) I thought Proverbs 22:6 was a promise. ~ It’s not. It is a proverb which means it’s a wise saying. Words of wisdom are to be heeded, but wisdom is not a promise. Wisdom is a diligent endeavor to know the truth and to apply the understanding of that truth to every aspect of our lives.
2.) I thought Proverbs 22:6 was for parents. ~ And it is, but it’s not exclusively for parents. A child is "trained" by many people; school teachers, Bible teachers, pastors, even their peers are contributing to their training.
3.) I thought Proverbs 22:6 was a designated path. A path I was to set my children on and, by carefully designing that path, there would be little they could do but follow its course. ~ Actually, it’s not a path, but more a realization of who our children uniquely are.
4.) I misinterpreted what Proverbs 22:6 was encouraging us, as parents, to accomplish with each individual child. ~ This is what one commentator had to say about this verse:
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As parents, we are to study the heart of each child to the depth of feeling it’s every beat. Where did we ever get the idea that our children came to us as "blank-slate" material and we could "write" on them the path we had chosen for them?
Temperament is the emotional core of who we are and is the determining factor of who we will become. Why? Because everything we learn and everything we are exposed to in life is first filtered through our individual temperament before we come to our own personal conclusions about life.
Temperament is not a word you will find in the Bible but the examples of different temperament traits are very much revealed in scripture. Take for example Mary and Martha, who were sisters, their interaction with Christ revealed their different temperaments.
Then there is the temperament example of Jacob and Esau, twin brothers born to Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 25:21-23).
Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Recognizing that this verse is speaking about temperament opens the realization that we’ve got more to do in exploring the emotional depths of our children.