FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 18, number 11, March 14, 2019
“They quickly forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but craved intensely in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. So He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” -Psalm 106:13-15
Parents, What Do You Want for Your Children?
We live in a day where parents tend to coddle their children, to give them all they crave, to think their job is to be their children’s best friend. Parents tend to make their children “Tea Cuppers,” so fragile that they cannot handle the hard things in life. So in universities everywhere students must have “safe zones” and be told ahead of time by their professors if something uncomfortable will be addressed in class so that they can miss the class that day, if they wish. Then there is all the major financial and time investment parents make in their young children for softball or baseball pitching lessons, voice and dance lessons, travel teams in basketball or baseball, all in the hopes of garnering an athletic scholarship for their children. Parents pray for, work for, give their resources and energy for making their children an earthly success. And very often their prayers are answered. Their children are seen as the most popular or the most accomplished in the school when it comes to athletics or academics. However, too often their children seem to have leanness of soul. Why? What has happened?
What do you want in life? What drives you, what consumes you? Most little boys, until around tenth grade or so, are driven by athletic prowess. They dream of playing for Alabama or Auburn, playing in the NFL, NBA, or MLB. Most begin to realize around tenth grade, this is most likely not going to happen, and when their male hormones begin to kick in they find an interest in girls, and begin to crave acceptance and popularity from the opposite sex. This lasts a long time, into at least their late thirties or forties, but then this begins to wane too and they pursue money, prestige, position, and power. As they approach their retirement years they want to kick back, travel, and spend time doing the things they never had the time or money to do earlier in life. Be careful for what you ask. God may give it to you and bring leanness to your soul.
What do you want for your children? After living in New England for nearly ten years, while always before that, living in the South, I came to observe that New Englanders crave something different for their children than most Southerners do. New England parents are all about the education of their children. They must get their toddlers in the best pre-school, even paying $25,000 per year for three day, four hour per day instruction for their three year olds. This, of course, is meant to assure that their children get in the best prep school possible, because their child absolutely must get into Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. A second tier Ivy League college will simply be an embarrassment to them. They are pretty convinced that there is little hope of a real job without the connections these colleges afford their child. Be careful New England parent for what you ask. God may give it to you and bring leanness to your child’s soul.
Southerners are different. They tend to be all about popularity and athletic success. Yes, of course, they value education but this is generally not the all consuming passion of Southern parents. Their daughter just has to make the Middle School cheerleading squad. Their nine year old daughter who shows some talent and interest in softball must have the best pitching coach at $50 per hour to make sure she is on her way to an athletic scholarship at an SEC school. Same with the ten year old boy who loves baseball. He must have his own hitting instructor and plenty of time in the batting cage under the tutelage of his coach. And of course travel baseball and softball teams are essential. The best competition in the country is mandatory in order for the child to reach his full potential. Of course the parents miss church for three and four months at a time since the summer season begins in May and runs through August on most every weekend, and their son is likely to have elbow surgery when he is twelve years old, but this is something which simply must be done. Be careful for what you ask. God may give it to you and bring leanness to the soul of your child.
What do you want later in life? Granted, you have worked hard for many years and you are now retired and you have ample resources of time and money to allow you the freedom to do pretty much what you wish to do. So you tend to spend most of your time at the beach, in the mountains, or in Europe. You rationalize this by saying that you know your years of good health are quickly slipping away and you want to cash in on the time and resources while there is still time. So you take full advantage of these resources and if you are honest, you will admit that your attendance at church and your small group is not very consistent. You will admit that your zeal for God, your hunger for His word seems to be waning a bit. You will sometimes admit that you really don’t have much concern for peoples souls. And you tend to just show up at church and put a nice check in the offering plate. Be careful for what you ask. God may give it to you and bring leanness to your soul.
We see the same principle played out in the nation of Israel when they craved a king (1 Samuel 8:4ff). This desire was displeasing to Samuel who asked Yahweh what He thought about it. To this Yahweh responded, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them,” (I Samuel 8:7). God gave them their desire. Saul was made king and he proved to be a disaster to the nation of Israel. It brought leanness to their souls.
Too often parents who wish to be their children’s best friend, get their request with disastrous consequences. I well remember a high school senior who was given a “muscle car” for his sixteenth birthday. One night, while intoxicated, he was driving on a country road, and was unable to negotiate the turn in the road and went airborne, hitting a tree at seventy miles per hour. He died instantly. When his father came to the scene of the accident late that night, he said, “I guess I was wrong in trying to be my son’s best friend. I did not discipline him, but gave him whatever he wanted.” His son died with great leanness of soul.
Are you guilty of this, my friends? Mom, are you treating your daughter like she is your roommate in your sorority so many years ago at the University? Dad, do you view your son as your hunting or fishing buddy and thus refuse to check him on his attitude, speech, or behavior, wrongly giving into the false notion that “boys will be boys?” Be careful, Mom and Dad, for what you crave. You may bring leanness to the souls of your children.
Are you consumed, caught up in the athletic, academic, and social lives of your children? Look at your online checking account. Where are you spending your money? How much are you putting into special coaches for baseball, softball, basketball, or dance class? Are you overly demanding on the time your children spend studying? Are you anxious, worried about whether or not your children will do well enough on the ACT or SAT to get into an Ivy league university? As your daughter goes off to college for the first time, are you going to be able to take it if she does not get her first choice on the sorority? Be careful for what you crave. You may get what you want but bring leanness to the souls of your children.
I can promise you this. My wife and I pray daily for our grandchildren and their cousins. We pour out our hearts to God on their behalf. We often tell God that we really don’t care how popular they are, how good their grades are, and how athletically accomplished they are. At best all these things are secondary or tertiary in our minds. Our one, overall request to God is for the salvation of our grandchildren. We cannot bear the thought of even one of them ending up in hell. Though their parents are rearing them in the faith, though they are in Christian schools or being home-schooled, though they all go to good PCA churches, though Wini and I are always speaking Biblical truth into their lives, we know that none of these things will guarantee their salvation. Unless and until the Holy Spirit regenerates each one of them, until the Spirit takes out their rebellious hearts which love sin and hate God, then none of the good things just mentioned will mean anything to them. They are born corrupt in every aspect of their being, in thought, word, heart, deeds, attitudes, and emotions. And the longer they live without Christ’s regenerating grace being applied to them, then the more sin is developed and hardened in their consciences and wills. So we daily ask God to take out their rebellious heart, which we liken to a cobra because cobras are so deadly to those bitten by them (Psalm 58:4), and give them the heart of Jesus which loves God and hates sin. We pray also that God would protect them from sexual predators, perverts, and the devastating temptation of pornography. We pray they will all be virgins when they marry. We pray their fathers, who by far are the most important person in their lives, will tell them they love them, will discipline them with the rod when they need it, and connect with them emotionally and spiritually. Nothing else matters to us.
My friends, pray for your children and grandchildren, but pray for what they really, really need-new life in Jesus Christ by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.