Someone once said “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.”(Job 3:25)
When he said it, it was in relation to his profound losses, including the loss of his children. These words were probably voiced without intent, most likely the gut wrenching conclusion of a shattered heart thinking out loud. If you ponder this statement within its context, you’ll determine that they are brutally honest and painful.
Those of us with kids would have to concur that we would say the same thing if we were to receive such news. Today, many can say that they understand because they too have experienced the loss of a beloved child. The rest of us don’t want to even ponder what it would be like. It’s too uncomfortable to think about. We don’t have to ask why that is.
To most parents, our children are not just part of our lives, they are our lives. They come into our world totally vulnerable and dependant on us, and we raise them, nurture them, and spend many years of our lives striving to provide everything they need because we love them from the day they are born. Our lives and hearts are willingly and sacrificially invested in them. To lose them to some unexpected tragedy or disease would be tantamount to losing a part of ourselves.
But as they grow older we begin to see them make life choices, some choices with positive outcomes, and some, not so positive. Some are even tragic. We instruct them in the way they should go, and if we are honest with ourselves, it’s not the same way we went when we were their age. Nevertheless, we hope that they will heed our instructions.
The truth is, every child old enough to make choices, will in one way or another, reap the repercussions of those choices. From relationships, to bodily injuries, to legal issues, to accomplishments, to losses and gains, choices have outcomes… good or bad. (Gal. 6:7)
Sometimes the consequences that come into their lives are of no choice of theirs at all. Sometimes they are imposed on them by the choices others make, from the trivial to the tragic. We can see this in the fateful event of the Virginia Tech slayings. No matter your perspective on that young man’s reasoning (or lack of it) for committing such an unthinkable act of violence, it does not negate the fact that his choice, though decisive, randomly affected innocent others. The students who lost their lives were someone’s sons and daughters.
To a parent, this is the sad and sobering reality of life’s unforeseen turns.
Our plans and hopes for our children’s future can easily be disrupted by today’s unsuspected events. This shouldn't keep us from making good and responsible plans for their future, but it should compel us to consider what our objectives are for them today while we have them. (Mt. 6:34)
If our objective is the stuff of this world, because we want our kids to have it “better than us”, or if it is our own sense of parental significance, or even being so preoccupied with the "ideal family" that we are always expressing disappointment or disagreement with reality, then is it possible to be so driven toward their well being that we may be driving our kids away? Is it also possible to miss out on enjoying the treasures we do possess (speaking of the privilege of being a parent), because we fail to see how wealthy we already are?
Those of us with children literally have a treasure in our hands. If we're not careful, we will allow the cares of this world and our pursuit of tomorrow to blur our vision of it’s value.
The gold miner who yells “eureka!” does so because he has discovered something of profound value and worth. But to the mule that carries the gold, it is no more than a burden. The difference is in the perspective.
Those of us who know the value of our children, may have difficulty releasing them to making their own decisions, their own mistakes, to facing the trials that this life has in store for them, trails we are all too familiar with. We don’t want them to suffer.
Eventually, our children begin to reach an age where they need to start learning to become independent of our covering, to learn to provide for themselves and eventually their own family, they will make decisions or have circumstances that we know full well will turn up the heat in their lives, this is the crucible referred to in the title, their crucible. As they start to go through this, we as parents must have the courage to know that God is in control. We must remember that like precious metals, it is necessary for them to go through the fires of the crucible. They must be exposed to the fire’s critical mass, and there, they will either allow its heat to refine them or reduce them, but it needs to be their decision, not ours. If we bail them out, we will need to be certain that it is for their good and their growing, and not just for their comforting and caring. We need to discern the possible outcome… Cheer them on, encourage them, but to intervene without discretion may produce regrettable consequences. I'm not suggesting that we wink at their waywardness, but to reconsider releif from the pressures of this life. We have a responsibility to call them out on sin issues, but even then, we must ultimately place them in The Master's hands.
As parents, we must have the courage to discern when to let go of what we treasure. Not as a loss, but as an investment. We spend the early years laying a foundation in their lives and after time it is simply faith to believe that the building will stand on the basis of a good foundation. When the storms come, and they will come, we must remember that we were useful tools in the Makers hands and therefore cannot allow ourselves to be swayed by our fears, failures or faults. Faith must be the catapult that launches them from under our responsibility. We must relinquish them into the hands of the Heavenly Father who cares for them by providing and protecting, as well as purging, purifying, and perfecting them by the Holy Spirit's fire.
"But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children..." Ps.103:117
Again, we can't be too careful. Anyone who is still holding on to the precious metal when it's going through the Crucible will inevitably interfere with the purification process. Better to be available than intrusive.
We won’t always be there for our kids, and to insist on being so is not always helpful. What I mean is that we shouldn't always insist on bailing them out, or on offering our untimely advise.
So this calls for courage and not control on a parents part. Not to deny them our love, but to slowly dismiss them in love from under our covering as they grow older to face the reality of life’s demands. We will have equipped them appropriately, and will have nurtured a trusting heart toward God, who will never leave them or forsake them. He will always be a covering to those who trust Him. Hopefully, they will appreciate this from us after the transition, and we will have gained the honor of influence …something that can’t be enforced.