What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? – Jesus (Luke 11:11-12 ESV)

Those of us who are parents know that our children are entrusted to our care by God. They are on loan to us, as it were. Our job is to teach them, to nurture them, to prepare them. The journey our young people must take on their way to adulthood is fraught with life-threatening perils. How will we equip them for the journey? What provisions will we give them to take along? What wisdom can we impart that will safeguard them against the dangers?

As a father of four, I take seriously the task of preparing my children for the opportunities and challenges they will face in life. I know they will grow up quickly; there is no time to dither.

The gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. – Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

Lutherans know that a person starts out on the narrow way by the grace of God through Baptism, and remains on that way by means of a faith that trusts the Word of God conferred in Baptism. But it is by no means certain that saving faith will persist in the baptized. It would be a colossal mistake to assume that any person whose faith is not constantly nurtured will remain within the Church. The ‘narrow way’ has many off-ramps.

I am stunned by the number of Christian parents who have allowed themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security, as they send their children down the garden path into the forest of our public schools, assuming all they need will be well provided. Little do they realize that their children will actually be given sandals instead of hiking shoes, foggy glasses that blur their sight (which will later be upgraded to blindfolds), and a compass that points only wherever they want it to point. What’s more, many parents don’t even bother to check in on the state of affairs through regular family devotions. “Hey, what’s this snake doing in your bag? Weird, I found a scorpion in your lunch box. Let’s talk about this.”

Some say that close parental engagement can make all the difference for children who are in the public system. It’s true that parents can help their children sort through the confusing and conflicting messages they are receiving. Still, too often, the amount of time parents spend really connecting with their children is simply not enough to counter other influences. Well-intentioned parents find themselves in a constant uphill battle against the school system. Worst of all, even if the moral failures of the school could be corrected at home, the pedagogical failures cannot. Knowing this, many parents only enroll their children in the public system with heavy hearts. They wish there were another option.

Unfortunately there are also those parents for whom the game has been to focus on their own lives and to let the kids get on with theirs. Our culture does not encourage us to sacrifice our own wants and desires for the sake of other people – not even for our children.  Against this kind of social pressure, let us look to the selflessness of Christ as our model.  He did not seek His own glory or earthly riches, but gave His entire life for our benefit.  Let us in turn be willing to loosen our grip on those things that would prevent us from carrying out our parental calling faithfully.

I believe it’s time for fathers especially, and all parents in general, to wake up and look critically at what is happening with their children’s education. Ask more questions. Look behind the curtain. The fact is that none of us will get a second chance to raise our children. That’s why the time to take action is RIGHT NOW. Be encouraged! There are good options available for those who seek them.

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