I know that I’m like many parents when I worry about the salvation of my sons. This is nothing new to any believer that has children. I think though that my worries stem more from the fact that I have so little time with them, now that their mother and I are now divorced. I fear what my absence from them, and the divorce will do to their faith.
However, I was encouraged by an article by Kevin DeYoung reviewing the book Families and Faith by Vern L. Bengtson on two points.
The first point the book makes that gives me hope is the section entitled “fervent faith cannot compensate for a distant dad.” I know, the distant dad part does worry me. But the other aspect of this gives me hope. Here is what DeYoung writes:
“Fervent faith cannot compensate for a distant dad.” It’s important for children to see religious role modeling in their parents. But personal piety is no substitute for the quality of the parent-child relationship. Parents who are warm and loving are more likely to pass on the faith than those that are distant and authoritarian. This is especially true when it comes to fathers. A relationally and spiritually distant dad is very difficult to overcome, despite the religious zeal of the mother.
I know there is a lot of distance between me and my boys, but I’m hoping that the LORD will use the aspect of warm and loving to compensate. My inclination has always been to be an authoritarian father, but honestly, I never was very good at pulling it off no matter how many books I read.
The second area that was encouraging to me was the reality that when children grow up to become Prodigals, we should not give up.
“Don’t give up on Prodigals, because many do return.” In Bengtson’s sample, the prodigals who came home were the ones who knew they had parents waiting for them, ready to accept them if and when they returned to their roots. Don’t give up parents. Keep praying and keep on loving.
We need the reminder that just because a child strays here and there, we still have hope that the LORD will bring them back to the faith. Not that my sons have strayed. I hope they never do, and I pray that they will not remember a time when they didn’t trust in Christ. They do confess their trust in them, but I still worry: how much of their confession is genuine faith or just pleasing Dad?
Ultimately, however, my trust in my boy’s salvation is in the LORD. I’m trusting in Him to save them, regardless of all the short comings I may have as their Father. In fact, the more I think of my short comings, the more I trust in the LORD. He is faithful and trustworthy. This is the finality that all parents face. We pray, teach, encourage, point, share as much as possible. But in the end, we must turn to the Father to draw our children to Him.