Help?? My child is going astray!
Have a child who is going astray?
Having a child who is not headed in the right direction is a serious, serious matter. If not corrected it will remain one of life's greatest griefs. Finding that a child shows signs of going awry in one's own home is "high alert" material and demands everything we can possibly marshal to correct it, at the earliest possible hour—while there is yet time. We must stop at nothing, because unchecked rebellion has potential of shipwrecking our child, to his or her ruin, and remaining a lifetime sorrow for us, as parents.
God gives us our children to shepherd to the same degree that He shepherds us—which is total. We must do whatever it takes to regain the child's heart, as young as possible, and sensitively work at thoroughly disciplining him or her for God's kingdom. God gave us a realm over which to rule, for His sake. What we do with it, in all of its complexities, no matter how trying or difficult or extreme or "impossible", is terribly important. What we do in this, our first and closest realm of responsibility, behind closed doors, is far more important than our public life and activities will ever be. Many pastors have not understood this, to their sorrow, as they have lost their families. We can find out too late that there was a lifetime price tag on all of our choices, large and small.
As believers, we don't move beyond our problems, as a means of solving them. Instead, we wrestle, and then continue to wrestle some more, and in the wrestling we find more of ourselves revealed as we struggle. God is not a poor investor; He works on two stories at once. He works on us while He works on the child. Stay ON your problems, like a dog on a bone. When you show this kind of tenacity, you will find God heartily in the yoke with you. His breath comes hot and heavy.
The evil one's greatest tool in his toolbox is to divert our attention and occupy us elsewhere while he conducts his robberies. To thwart that, we must ensure that family comes first (after personal devotion to our Creator), and if there are warning lights on that dashboard, we must tend to them until there aren’t warning lights, before we extend our activities beyond that sphere. If our car is malfunctioning, we can't drive until the dashboard is all clear in our own vehicle. We must redouble our energy, sharpen our focus, and look again under the hood. We must go "deep" before we go "wide" in life. God did not say family would be easy, but He did say it is ours to plow through. And He did say that what we do with the family that we've been given, and it alone, is the credentialing for us to extend our life beyond that. That is why older women train the younger—after the older ones have proven themselves in their own soil. It is the same credentialing required of the men, as elders. The modern church has traded this requirement for talent and charisma instead, to our spiritual ruin as a culture.
When the child is still of moldable/malleable age, save your outside involvements until after your own child is back on the right road. Give that time to the straying child. There is more to life than increasing its speed. Sometimes we have to slow down—slow way down and focus. If one's child has the spiritual cancer of rebellion, one must work at arresting it now, leaving no stone unturned, because unchallenged cancer only grows.
However, if the child is grown and rebellious, then we shift gears. Because we can no longer exert a personal daily influence, we are limited far more to prayer. But this is no lesser power. Let us remember that George Mueller prayed for five people tenaciously—three of whom came to faith after he died. We can continue to influence such a grown child via other people's godly influence. We can sensitively share books/talks/famous quotes/and or verses as life with our straying grown child occasionally gives us opportunity. But few people can long endure the steady white-heat of a quiet godly love through prayer. No effort in prayer is ever wasted. The story is not over until Judgment Day.