When I read a media interview of an older person, there’s sometimes a question at the end asking if the individual has any regrets in their life. I have more than a few things in my own life that I’m regretful about.
Our pastor is currently doing a series on Sundays on proper parenting in the Lord. Ouch! That’s a very tough topic for me. My wife and I married very young and began having children right away. We were basically kids raising kids. My model for fathering was my own Dad. He didn’t have to spank too often because he was pretty strict right from the get-go. We didn’t have much of a relationship. My Dad was a very formal and private person and found it difficult to get down to a child’s level. I found out many years later that his own father had been very tough on him.
When I accepted the Lord I was 26 and our boys were 8 and 5. I was joyful and enthusiastic about the Lord being in my own life, but for some reason I didn’t do a good job of communicating that joy and knowledge to our boys. We all packed into our minivan and went to church on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights and on Wednesday evenings. I thought that was enough. We didn’t read the Bible together as a family. We didn’t pray together. When I counseled them about anything, the Lord rarely entered into it. I guess I was thinking that they were getting enough about God at church and that I didn’t need to bring Him up at home, too. Ach! What a dummy!
I was also very firm with my boys just as my Dad had been with me. The older they got, the more rebellious they became, and the more of a tyrant I became. I was trying to control their behaviors but I had done very little sowing and working in their hearts along the way. My boys and I had a lot of fun together playing outside, watching sports, etc., things my father couldn’t do, but I could turn into a disapproving drill sergeant on a dime.
I had become exasperated with our fundamentalist church and we stopped attending when my boys were 16 and 13. I didn’t mention the Lord at all after that. After some very difficult teenage years, both our boys went into the Air Force. My wife and I actually divorced after our youngest son went into the service as our circumstances were changing so quickly and the Lord was not our foundation.
Praise the Lord, my wife and I got back together the following year, and we remarried! The Lord kept working on my heart and I finally returned to Him two years ago. Our sons are now 41 and 38 and they’ve done “okay” as the world might define it, but neither one knows the Lord and they both have very messy domestic situations. I’ve apologized to both of them for being such an inept father and they’ve both been more gracious than I deserve.
So hearing about the proper way to raise children every Sunday is very hard for me, especially when my wife turns to me occasionally during the sermons with that “look” on her face. Thanks, Dear. The Lord wants us to realize our sins and mistakes and to learn from them but He doesn’t want us to dwell on them either. Great is His mercy and forgiveness! If the apostle Paul had dwelt on his earlier persecutions of the church, he would have been no use to the Lord whatsoever.
So if you’ve wronged someone; children, spouse, family, friends, seek the Lord’s forgiveness, seek their forgiveness, and then move forward with the Lord in your heart. Satan wants to keep you defeated. The Lord wants to use you for His glory! We have children and grandchildren we need to reach for the Lord! And young parents, make Christ the center of your household and everything you do with your children.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” – Psalm 37:23-24
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3
“Thoroughly wash me, inside and out, of all my crooked deeds. Cleanse me from my sins. For I am fully aware of all I have done wrong, and my guilt is there, staring me in the face. It was against You, only You, that I sinned, for I have done what You say is wrong, right before Your eyes. So when You speak, You are in the right. When You judge, Your judgments are pure and true.” – Psalm 51:2-4
“Whoever tries to hide his sins will not succeed, but the one who confesses his sins and leaves them behind will find mercy. Happy is the one who always fears the Lord, but the person who hardens his heart to God falls into misfortune.” – Proverbs 28:13-14