I am sitting here this morning thinking, I do often, but more so this morning about the parents of my students that make up Fusion and the ministry that I get to do all over this community in which I live. My thoughts are overwhelming and have been for the past few months. I realize more and more each month that goes by how deeply important parents are in the lives of their kids, especially the spiritual lives of their children. I used to think early on in student ministry that when I met a teenager who came into my ministry, that if they came from a spiritually malnourished home, that it didn’t really matter, as long as that student wanted to change, it could happen, and would without too much struggle. I don’t believe that so much anymore. When I speak of a spiritual malnourished home, I think about fathers who are not the spiritual leaders of their families, I think about families who are not involved in the local church, attending regularly, serving often, and taking risk with what they call theirs. I think about more devotion given to sports and outdoors than the Word and Worship of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. What I hear that students are witnessing and hearing in their homes troubles me and leaves me up OFTEN at night wondering, “How Lord”?
There is a definite broken attachment from God in many families today, and for whatever reason, we wander away. We wander slowly at first, but progressively drifting faster and faster overtime, until we have gotten to the point where we have drifted so far from what is truth, that we don’t even think subconsciously that our decisions are eternally effecting our children. This is where I hurt and hurt often for teenagers. Why? Because so often they desperately want to change, they want to be involved in the local church, they want truth, they want to do something that has purpose and significance, but their greatest battle begins at home, with their mom and dad. I can’t tell you how many times over the past year that a teenager or group of teenagers have wished that their mom and dad would go to church. I even sat across the table from a teenager who looked over at his father who had just arrived to pick him up and said, “Dad, we need to start going to church.” His dad changed the subject.
A mentor of mine told me, “Gumption corrects drift”. It’s gumption that corrected drift in the prodigal son. In Luke 15, we find him at the end of himself, desperate, and instead of tossing life to wind and just living for the moment, he realizes there is more to his life.
“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.” Luke 15:17-20
He humbled himself and realized that he needed the mercy of a father, no matter the cost. He never expected to receive what his father gave him.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’“But the father wasn’t listeng. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
I love it, “his heart pounding, he ran out and embraced him…the father (God) wasn’t listening. He was calling everyone out for a party…’my son is here, given up for dead, now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.” (bold mine)
Look, I know that families are experiencing deep struggle and deep pain. There is divorce, addictions, the loss of loved ones. Some are even discovering they missed out on their teenage years, grew up too fast, but yet they have found some free time to make up for it. Just in the last month I have had three teenagers explain, through pain, how they wish their parents would quit drinking. Whatever the reason parents, I pray gumption for you! I pray, much like the prodigal, that you come back home, and bring your kids with you. Gumption reprioritizes what’s important, gumption comes back early on Saturday nights, gumption prays with your teenagers, gumption begins Christian counseling, gumption says “Enough!” I pray that you come to your senses, and when you do, that you find the Father WAITING for you, to run and embrace you, ready to throw you a party. How incredible the love and mercy of the Father, who will take us from the crap house to the dance floor in an instant if we humble ourselves and throw ourselves at His mercy. For the desire of your teenagers who want truth, I pray gumption over you for this 2017 year. May the prodigal come to their senses, realize that they are not themselves apart from God, and come home. Whether you know it or not, your kids are screaming for you to come, and the Father is waiting to see you.