WHEN CHILDREN CHOOSE NOT TO LIVE FOR GOD
BY DOCTOR DOBSON
Our middle daughter has chosen to reject our faith and do things she knows are wrong. She’s living with a twice divorced man and apparently has no intention of marrying him. She has had at least two abortions that we know about, and her language is disgraceful. My wife and I have prayed until we’re exhausted, and yet she has shown no interest in returning to the church. At times, I become very angry at God for allowing this terrible dung to happen. I have wept until there are just no more tears. Can you offer us any encouragement?
There is nothing more important to most parents than the salvation of their children. Every other goal and achievement in life is anemic and insignificant compared to this transmission of faith to their offspring.
That is the only way they can be together throughout eternity, and they, like you, have been praying day and night for spiritual awakening. Unfortunately, if God does not answer those prayers quickly, there is a tendency to blame Him and to struggle with intense feelings of bitterness. The “betrayal barrier” claims another victim!
Often, this anger at the Lord results from a misunderstanding of what He will and won’t do in the lives of those for whom we intercede. The key question is this: Will God require our offspring to serve Him if they choose a path of rebellion? It is a critically important question.
The answer, according to Dr. John White and the theologians with whom I have spoken, is that God will not force Himself on anyone. If that was His inclination, no person would ever be lost. Second Peter 3:9 says, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” To claim this great salvation, there is a condition. An individual must reach out and take it. He or she must repent of sins and believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without that step of faith, the gift of forgiveness and eternal life is impossible.
Said another way, the Lord will not save a person against his will, but He has a thousand ways of making him more willing. Our prayers unleash the power of God in the life of another individual. We have been granted the privilege of entering into intercessory prayer for our loved ones and of holding their names and faces before the Father. In return, He makes the all-important choices crystal clear to that individual and brings positive influences into his or her life to maximize the probability of doing what is right. Beyond that, He will not go.
Admittedly, we have strolled into deep theological water here. Who knows exactly how God responds to intercessory prayer and how He deals with a wayward heart? How can I explain the prayers of my great-grandfather (on my mother’s side), who died the year before I was born? This wonderful man of God, G.W. McCluskey, took it upon himself to spend the hour between 11 a.m. and noon every day in prayer specifically for the spiritual welfare of his family. He was talking to the Lord not only about those loved ones who were then alive. McCluskey was also praying for generations not yet born. This good man was talking to the Lord about me, even before I was conceived.
Toward the end of his life, my great-grandfather made a startling announcement. He said God had promised him that every member of four generations-both those living and those not yet born-would be believers. Well, I represent the fourth generation down from his own, and it has worked out more interestingly than even he might have assumed.
The McCluskeys had two girls, one of whom was my grandmother and the other, my great-aunt. Both grew up and married ministers in the denomination of their father and mother. Between these women, five girls and one boy were born. One of them was my mother. All five of the girls married ministers in the denomination of their grandfather, and the boy became one.
That brought it down to my generation. My cousin H.B. London and I were the first to go through college, and we were roommates. In the beginning of our sophomore year, he announced that God was calling him to preach. And I can assure you, I began to get very nervous about the family tradition!
I never felt God was asking me to be a minister, so I went to graduate school and became a psychologist. And yet, I have spent my professional life speaking, teaching and writing about the importance of my faith in Jesus Christ.
At times, as I sit on a platform waiting to address a church filled with Christians, I wonder if my great-grandfather isn’t smiling at me from somewhere. His prayers have reached across four generations of time to influence what I am doing with my life today.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED IN THE DECEMBER 1994 ISSUE OF FOCUS ON THE FAMILY MAGAZINE, AND WAS WRITTEN BY DR. JAMES C. DOBSON. THIS MATERIAL HAS BEEN COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR RESEARCH AND STUDY PURPOSES ONLY.