Recently I read an article by Cilas De Menezes entitled, “When a child turns away from God’s ways”. It was in the June 2021 edition of the Banner of Truth Magazine. It was a challenging and yet deeply edifying read. As a parent, I can’t think of much worse than the idea of watching one of my four children abandon the faith and walk away from the Lord. Some of you read this with pain fresh in your heart as you watch your children living in rebellion against the Lord, as my siblings do. The question that might plague you is, “What should I do?” De Menezes attempts to answer this question. He provides ten powerful and practical things that you can do today for your children. The following is my restatement of his idea in short form, credit of ideas go to him. May God use them to help you grapple with this issue.
1 – Rejoice in the Lord always. The Lord calls us to rejoice in everything. You must out rejoice the world and your children, that they might see your joy which is found in Christ and Christ alone.
2 – Share your pain with the people of God so they might share your burden and pray for you. We are called to weep with those who weep. As parents in pain, we desperately need others to help us carry our burden. There is always a temptation to hide our sorrows and pretend like everything is okay. Rather, be honest and upfront about the sorrows of your heart.
3 – Pray without ceasing for the salvation of your children. There are many turkey-wombats for the Christian parent. If only I had done more, if only… Yet, it is too late to go back, but not too late to look forward in prayer. Pray with all your might that he might change their heart. You cannot save your child, yet he can.
4 – Strengthen your marriage, as this will test it. The devil will seek to use this to put a wedge into your marriage. You need to draw near and support each other. Let this sorrow fuel greater love and dependency between you.
5 – Pray God will show them the ugliness of the world. The unbelieving child believes the world is where joy is found. Ask God to cause them to see the horror of the world. That they might grow to hate it and flee to God for true joy and pleasure.
6 – Ask God and your child for forgiveness for your failings. We all know we fail as parents. When our children leave the faith, there are always things we could have done better. Come to your faithful, loving Father and acknowledge your failings. Tell your child if you could do it again you would do it differently, and ask them specifically for forgiveness for things you did wrong.
7 – Be gracious to your child. Let them see and taste of the grace of God at all times. The gospel is the hope for them and you. Live by the grace of Christ in such a way that they can taste it. That they may see the gospel clear in your life. Call to them with the gospel through your life, not the law.
8 – Spend much time with your child, that they might see the effect of God in your life. If you ignore your non-Christian children what gospel witness will they have? You may be the only source of the goodness of God in their life. Take every opportunity to spend time with them in a way that you can honour God.
9 – Do not indulge them in their sin, wait patiently for their return, and do not encourage them. This could be extremely hard (gay weddings and other sensitive issues), yet it is vital that you do not encourage or endorse sinful behaviour. We must honour the Lord our God as holy. With much fear and trembling before the Lord, we must walk with wisdom on this issue.
10 – Be assured that God will be glorified, no matter the outcome. The great assurance we have is that God will be praised and worshipped. One day, regardless of the result, we will be enabled to bow in peace before the great King and worship him for what he has sovereignly ordained.
May God indeed bring many sons and daughters to glory, and may some of them be our children!
This article was contributed by Logan Hagoort, Pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church.
Please get in touch with him if you would like a copy of the Banner of Truth original article and he can ask them for the right to reproduce it.