Some of the most tragic words in the Bible are found in Judges chapter 2.
After finally receiving the promised land and conquering most of the nations which inhabited it, the Israelites chose not to fulfill God’s commandment of driving out all it’s inhabitants. The nations that remained not only harassed the Israelites, but often coaxed them into idolatry and immorality.
Those who survived Joshua remembered the works of the Lord and kept the law of Moses. As time marched on, each of them passed away, and the memory of God’s mighty works seemed to pass away with them.
The greatest tragedy of their age is encapsulated in this one sentence: “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10, ESV)
World War I ended nearly ninety-nine years ago. Several generations have come and gone since “The Great War,” and yet, we remember it. The memorials still stand. The graveyards and trenches continue to mark the landscape of Europe. The Israelites weren’t nearly as far removed from the Conquest of Canaan as we are from World War I, and yet their children had already forgotten!
“They did not know the Lord.”
“[They did not know] the work [God] had done for Israel.”
Imagine God’s disappointment as the Israelites forgot about Him.
What happened? What went wrong?
There was a failure to train children the way God had commanded. It is unclear whether the parents were so consumed with conquering the land that they figured they would “get a round tuit” or if they just plain forgot. Regardless of the cause, a nationwide epidemic plagued the Israelites—an epidemic of godlessness.
Fellow parent, you may feel—consciously or unconsciously—that parenting is a “lesser” work; we have “more important” things to do like putting food on the table or saving for retirement or paying for college. You may believe the church will take care of your children’s religious training (the norm for decades), or may even figure they’ll learn by osmosis.
Parents, please listen: Training up our children is our responsibility, and it serves God’s purposes.
Whatever higher calling you may think you have, this job—raising kids—is on the same (or possibly higher) plane. Our children are part of our mission field. They aren’t the center of our universe nor should we neglect God’s work in pursuit of their happiness, but we should be actively acquainting them—every single day—with our great and awesome God.
How our children are trained, educated, and loved will influence the course of this nation and the course of our congregations.
You son or daughter has been given to you. He or she is entrusted to your care to be trained and taught; to be loved and led. If we neglect our kids for some “higher or nobler” calling, we are neglecting a soul within our direct sphere of influence.
Whether you are a parent or not, you too can be involved in this important mission: Start by lifting up this generation of parents in prayer.
Start by lifting up this generation of parents in prayer.
As we press through August and into the fall, we will see all the signs of a new school year. Gradually, a few parents will develop a worry line or two. Homeschool moms may find themselves sobbing as perfect lesson plans implode in the face of another autistic episode. Another mom may be quietly sobbing in an empty room as their youngest child moves three or three hundred miles away from home in pursuit of a college degree. A dad may be growing stomach ulcers over the safety of his daughter around all those teenage boys.
On top of all the back-to-school challenges, parents are still facing life with all it’s pressures and frustrations. Are we sensitive to their needs? Are we reaching out to be supportive? Encouraging? Helpful?
I may be facing my own mountain of parenting obstacles, but I still need to reach outside my own nucleus and pray for the parents around me—the parents of my kids’ friends, parents at church, parents of my child’s future spouse.
Every generation of parents needs to pray and be prayed for. Let’s open our ears to listen to parents and lay their needs before our Father’s throne. These men and women are part of our community inside and outside the church. If we have the opportunity to help, let’s help!
Here are some requests to lay before the Lord:
- Grant them wisdom to discipline in a constructive, consistent manner
- May they diligently teach their children who You [the Lord] are and how to live in a way that pleases You.
- As they grapple with the stresses of their career, bills, relocation, physical ailments, etcetera, provide them with the strength to stay focused on the ultimate goal of eternal life.
- When the hard questions arise, bless them with wisdom to answer in such a way as to point them toward You [God].
- Where they fall short, gracious Father, please supply what is lacking.
- Help them to know when to step in and when to step back.
- Allow Your peace to rest on their heart, especially if they are anxious about their children going back to school.
- Help them to resist temptation.
- Help them to live a life that demonstrates the love of Christ and the joy of knowing Him in such a way as to make an impression on their children.
There’s no time like the present to start praying. Remember, this generation of children will someday be making decisions for our nation and our churches. Pray for them, and while you’re at it, pray for their parents.
This post originally appeared on Elihu’s Corner and was republished with permission.