Quote – “Many Christians have asked us, “What can we best do to help our grown children?” We say, “Purify your hearts. There is nothing that can happen to you that does not bless or afflict your children….Until the sin in a family is brought to the cross, whatever happens to a parent either purifies or muddies the flow of God’s waters to our children.” John & Paula Sanford – Restoring the Christian Family – p. 230
Isaac, Abraham’s son, was not an ideal father in some ways. But I love how he refused to throw in the towel with his wife’s (Rebekah) barrenness so he could become a father and fulfill the purposes of God. Even after 20 years of barrenness, he prayed for her in faith that God would heal/open her womb. Here is his prayer and God’s response in Genesis 25:21, “Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.” I know we dealt with this in my fourth post on fathering re: Abraham and Sarah. But we believers tend to not persevere like we should in overcoming barrenness with faith and prayer and in faithfully remembering in prayer those who are struggling to get pregnant. So could I ask you again to stop now and pray for those (perhaps even your own wife or husband) you know who long to have a child? Thanks for praying!
Jacob, one of Isaac’s two sons, was known early on for his deceit in tricking his father (with his mother’s help) to bless him instead of his brother Esau, who was the first born. Jacob years later ended up fathering 12 sons via two wives and one of their maids each. What I appreciate about Jacob is he walked with God increasingly, despite his failures. When God spoke to him or called him or directed him, he usually responded in obedience. God clearly was the initiator and sustainer of their relationship, but Jacob was responsive to God’s initiatives.
One day, some time after the awful incident surrounding the rape of Jacob’s daughter Dinah, God spoke to him again and directed him to “…go up to Bethel and dwell there, and make an altar there to God….” (Genesis 35:1) Jacob took this call to worship (and the command to move) very seriously. And it is significant that Jacob knew their response to God’s call must include their cleansing themselves of any and all idolatry and impurity, “So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; and let us arise go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” (Gen. 35:2,3).
Jacob’s example in this regard is one we fathers must understand and heed if our children (and grandchildren) are to live a life pleasing to Him and be useable in His hands. The corruption (see Galatians 6:8) and defilement (see II Corinthians 7:1) of the world system God’s people are to be in but not of clings to our souls as a result of the sins we have committed. The barrage of snares and lies that come at us from the world system is almost dizzying at times. It is relentless due to Satan and his demons’ ongoing luring and tempting work. But we fathers (and grandfathers) must remember the apostle John’s declaration that “….greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4). And we fathers (and grandfathers) by His power and grace have the privilege and responsibility to step in and help our wives and children resist these temptations, worship the One True God in spirit and in truth, and cleanse ourselves by His blood from the corruption and defilement that clings to our souls when we sin.
Most children left to themselves do not have the willpower to walk away from Cable TV, social media, and all of the other means the enemy of our souls uses to entice and entrap us. Many children would prefer to sleep in on Sunday mornings rather than get up and head off to a worship gathering with the people God has joined them with. Dads must lead in this regard. And while their children may resist and complain, some day (hopefully soon) they will be very thankful for your leadership.
This principle or truth that worship and intimacy with God requires cleansing from idolatry and worldliness runs throughout scripture. It is surely what David had in mind in Psalm 15 when he rhetorically asked in vs. 1, “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill?” And then the answer in vs. 2 and following, “He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart…..” Even more clear is David’s rhetorical question in Psalm 24:3, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?” And then the answer in vs. 4, “He who has clean hands and pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.”
In Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit via the blood of Christ we can be clean and pure in His sight. It is up to we fathers to walk this out and help our wives and children walk it out as well. Our tactic must change when our children become adults and move out of our house and begin to establish their own. But our example will always be needed and will always speak much louder than our words.
One practical thing I would encourage in this regard if your children are not adults and are still under your roof is getting our children out in nature as much as is possible. Most children left to their own devices are probably going to choose to remain in front of their TV’s, or laptops, or consoles or whatever. That’s where parental leadership is so needed. Our experience and the experience of others we know is our children will often complain when we first seek to tear them away from their electronics. But once they get out in God’s creation, they most often are glad for the experience.
What I love about Jacob’s example is he didn’t just demand that they throw away all of their bad stuff. But he led them to true acceptable worship of the One True living God. The world’s pull is nothing to sneeze at or take lightly. Ultimately only something far greater than that very real power and temporary pleasure will help our children resist it and overcome it. And that something is an ongoing and ever increasing experience of and relationship with the living God. May the Holy Spirit lead us all to a life of worship in spirit and truth and an ever increasing experience of the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from knowing and worshipping and communing with our God - - so that overcoming the world’s lures and snares is evermore our lot.