Being a parent is hard work. It’s not easy and doing it right takes more than good intentions. It takes years and years of unrelenting effort to train up a child in the way he should go.
Manoah and Mrs. Manoah wanted a child more than anything in this world – but for many years they were unable to have a baby. When an angel from God told Mrs. Manoah that she would have a son, they were overjoyed. Notice Manoah’s prayer and desire to know how to be a good father: Judges 13:8 Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.
When the angel returned, they asked: Judges 13:12 And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?
Samson means “sunshine” and it is obvious that he was the sunshine of their lives. They began to train him up, and in his youth God began to work in his life.
Judges 13:24-25 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. (25) And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
Unfortunately, it was mostly downhill from there. In Judges 14-16, we find a young man with deep character flaws that led him into an unwise marriage with a Philistine woman, into the arms of a harlot and finally into the home of Delilah. Like all the judges, Samson was a deeply flawed individual that God used despite his shortcomings. Unfortunately, the life that began as a beam of sunshine in a little cradle in Manoah’s house ended under a pile of rubble in the land of the enemies of God.
Samson’s parents had good intentions. Most parents do. But raising kids is hard work and too many parents quit when things get hard.
Young parents should be humble. It is easy to be an expert on child rearing when your children are all under the age of seven. It is easy to be judgmental of parents whose kids (all older than yours) haven’t turned out quite right. Many sermons and blog posts have been preached and written with great authority and harsh denunciations by those who still strap their own kids into car seats and dress them for church.
Of course, the Bible is true no matter how old the preacher or teacher is, and so by all means preach what the Bible says about parenting – but be humble, hard as it is when we are young.
One of the great dangers of parenting is to give up when the kids turn 12 or 13. It’s easy to dress our girls up in their frilly church dresses with their shiny little church shoes when they are four years old; it gets harder when they become teenagers and dress themselves. Some give up and change their standards and even change their churches because their teenagers push back against those standards. That’s when the parent has to be the parent and do what is right.
When our kids are little the biggest problems we face are pretty small compared with the big issues to come – the teen years, keeping our kids away from bad influences, dealing with modesty and the opposite sex, dating or courting, going off to college, first jobs, driving, etc, etc, etc. The etc. is all the stuff you never expected.
Parenting is hard work. We need more than a 5 year plan. We need to keep working and praying and parenting all the way through. Good intentions aren’t enough. Big ideas aren’t enough. Determination to be better than those other parents is not enough. We’ve got to see them through the three big conversions of life:
- Sinner to saint (salvation)
- Child to adult (maturity)
- Single to married (family).
And it’s not easy. And it doesn’t get easier. It’s hard work and we’ve got to stay on the job.
Good intentions are the beginning of the journey. Along the way, you’ve got to avoid a lot of wrong turns, go around a lot of curves, endure a lot of problems, fix a few flats, and keep pressing on.
Thank you for reading. God bless.