Don’t we all wish that we could download certain life lessons directly into the hearts of our children? I know I would love to spoon feed them their decision on drugs, sex outside of marriage and texting while driving. I wish that I could take all of my life experience, all the moments I’ve shared with the Father and allow them to benefit and nurture their spirits in the same way they did mine. I would love for them to experience the first breathes of freedom following a miraculous, yet painful season, I’ve shared with Him. I would love for them to share in the humble gratitude I have felt after seeing a precious young woman say the Name of Jesus as Savior for the first time. It would save so much worry and many sleepless nights…if somehow all of my stumbles, my faithful moments and my faithless, my small victories and my sobs before Him could create the same result in my children as they have created in me.
The fact of the matter is…decisions become our own, we take them seriously, when they cost us something and when we arrive at the destination on our own, one step at a time.
While all the issues that I mentioned are important, there is no decision more important than the decision to be a Christ follower. What do we as parents do if we have a child that is wrestling with their own decision about what they will do with the Savior? I have listened to many scared and emotional parents describe one of their children experiencing a spiritual identity crisis. I’ve not heard more heart-felt pain than a parent crying out literally over their child’s eternity.
We have all read the story in Genesis 32 when Jacob wrestles with the Lord. There are a few things I would like to point out.
- Just a chapter before Jacob makes a covenant with his father-in-law Laban and in verse 53, Jacob takes the oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac (italics are mine). In Genesis 32:9, Jacob is praying to the Lord. He is preparing to see his brother Esau for the first time since Jacob stole Esau’s blessing. Jacob is afraid to say the least. He sends bribes ahead hoping that may pacify Esau, but he is keenly aware that Esau is coming to meet him and he is bringing over 400 men with him. In Jacob’s prayer, he refers to the Lord as O God of my Father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord…Do you notice that Jacob views God as the God of his fathers, but he doesn’t make reference to Him being his God?
- In chapter 32, the Word tells us that Jacob wrestled with God all night and when morning was coming the Lord tells him to let Him go. Jacob replies, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (vs. 26). The Lord asks Jacob, “What is your name?” Strange question isn’t it? Why in the world would He ask him his name at a moment like this? Because as soon as Jacob utters his name, he is confessing himself a “deceiver”…taking responsibility for his past and confessing it to the Lord.
- Finally the Lord changes Jacob’s name from “deceiver” to Israel which means, “he struggles with God.” But as beautiful is the name that Israel gave to the place of their struggle, he calls is Peniel meaning, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
- This experience changed Jacob’s gate for the rest of his life. He walked with a limp from that moment forward.
Those of us who have a child or someone we love in spiritual identity crisis can gain much comfort and encouragement from this story. Jacob was a grandson of father Abraham. His father Isaac laid himself on an alter to be sacrificed because of his faith and that of his father Abraham. Yet, Jacob had to have his own wrestling match with the Lord. Jacob had to take ownership for his own past and shortcomings and wrestle the thing through with the Lord. And then…he called the Lord his God and knew that he had seen God face to face for himself.
The same is true for our children. They must put their own hand to the question, asking themselves, what will I do with this man they call Jesus? They will own up to their own past and shortcomings and there will certainly be painful moments, life changing moments. But when all is said and done, they will have seen Him face to face and He will have changed their gate, their walk with Him will never be the same. We can trust them to the process; our God hasn’t lost a wrestling match yet.
You can swim confidently into the murky waters of parenting teens! Rescue offers wisdom, encouragement, and practical applications. Working with a group of young “Lifeguards” throughout the book, Candy Gibbs gives struggling parents the life preservers they need to rescue teens from a drowning culture. With Biblical insights and Candy’s own creative techniques, Rescue is the “Noah’s Ark” of parenting books, ensuring that today’s teens will carry on a legacy of godliness to generations to come. Find out more!