This month has been a busy time of celebrating grandchildren (of course any time is a good time to do that). We are enjoying two graduations, the first grandchild to graduate from college and the third to graduate from high school. But we are also celebrating our youngest granddaughter who will be baptized and share her testimony as well as other milestones and events for each of our six. In the midst of these, I am not losing sight of the less tangible reasons to celebrate, those that do not involve certificates or diplomas.
I am especially celebrating the evidences of the habits our children have been diligently seeking to develop, prune, and grow in each of our grandchildren. Chief among them is the ongoing development of their relationship with the Lord. They are all beyond the age and seasons of sitting on our laps listening to Bible stories. Three of them are officially adults. Each of the six has made a profession of their faith and trust in Jesus and have begun to walk out what it means to trust Him in daily life when things are hard, disappointing or depressing.
It is now that those foundational truths are developing into habits and evidences of seed sown long ago along with seed sown just a day ago. Will that truth and trust kick in when you don’t get the grade you want or need? Will that truth and trust kick in when someone makes a cruel remark about you? Will that truth and trust kick in when you feel rejected by friends? Will truth and trust kick in when you feel unsure of yourself, not equal to what lays ahead?
We read Proverbs 22: 6 and often have it memorized about the importance of training up a child. The ESV reads:
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
The NIV reads:
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
It means investing a lot of time not just teaching and training a child, but living with and out a Christ like life in the midst of daily living. It means teaching and modeling responsibility for so many things as well as teaching and modeling respect for others even when they do not agree with us. Parenting, good parenting, is not for cowards, the faint of heart, or those caught up in self-devotion. If we miss this opportunity when they are young because we are too busy, too lazy, or even too consumed with religious activities, we will have failed in our stewardship of these precious gifts entrusted to us by the Lord.
I hope I live long enough to see how the habits I see developing now in my grandchildren grow and expand into their adulthood. I love seeing some of those habits in our adult children. I feel deeply grateful that despite our failings as parents many times that both of our children are mature in their faith. I smile when we are visiting in their homes when I see our daughter on the end of her couch with a cup of coffee nearby as she studies the Word or see our son sitting on his front porch with coffee and golden retriever, Sam, while he too studies the Word. I also whisper, “Thank you, Lord!”
Habits that we develop over a lifetime stand out when we face extreme or difficult circumstances. A great Biblical example can be seen in David’s life as compared to Saul’s. At an early age David was convinced that a giant was no match for his big God. His friend, Jonathan, also encouraged him. Over and over again we see in his life the growing habit of trusting the Lord that had begun as a child when circumstances were not as large as a giant or the armies of Saul chasing him.
Look at the contrast with Saul. I don’t know a lot about his early life, but if early life shapes our habits then I might guess what it may have been like. We know he was tall and apparently handsome. Did he trust in his own prowess? His recorded story might suggest that. In contrast to David, he does not show evidence of thinking much about God and when push came to shove he gave more weight to the circumstances he was facing than to God. As a result of those habits, he succumbed to overwhelming fear, overwhelming pride, and dependence on circumstances. In the end those very things caused him to fall on his sword and take his own life.
What habits were sown into your life?
What habits are you sowing into someone else’s so when trials come, they can stand?