From the worldling’s hollow gladness

In the “one thought leads to another and I don’t know how I got here” department, I found myself thinking this morning about an incident in the junior-high years of one of my sons. Junior high is probably not anyone’s best time of life, but some people have a harder time of it. One of my sons got into trouble one day for using a phrase that had a “dirty” meaning. Fortunately the principal believed him when he said he didn’t know what it meant, that he just said it because other kids were saying it. (We had been here a little over a year and he hadn’t really made friends yet and was trying to “fit in.” I think we must’ve talked to him about not saying or doing wrong things to fit it and not trying to fit in with the wrong crowd — and yes, sadly, there is a wrong crowd even in Christian schools. I know we talked to him about not using phrases when you don’t know what they mean.) Oddly, neither the teacher nor the principal nor my husband nor I knew what the phrase meant. None of us had ever heard it before. Discreetly my husband asked someone he worked with, and we were shocked that such an innocent expression had such a meaning. It’s amazing to me how people can dirtify words with double entendre. It reminds me of Titus 1:15: “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”

When my son was in the tenth grade, an evangelist came to their school under whose ministry he was saved. He had made a profession before and had seemed to understand, but we were happy for him to have the matter settled in his own heart. We weren’t about to tell him, “No, no, you were saved as a little child. Don’t you remember?” I had had enough struggles with assurance on my own that I would never say that to anyone wrestling with whether they had really believed on the Lord. And that was a changing point in his life. A generally resistant spirit was gone and he began taking real and observable steps in his walk with God.

Some years later I found an essay in that son’s school folder that he had written for Bible class. I don’t remember what the main topic of the essay was, but in it my son described how in his junior high years he was actually in the wrong crowd, whereas I had thought he had merely had a brush with them. It wasn’t widely known what kinds of things these kids talked about because they were wise enough to keep their conversation generally clean around teachers and other students. But, my son went on to write, in the intervening years, every guy in that group had either gotten right with God or left the school.

I was surprised, frightened, and saddened that these things had gone on under my nose without my having a clue, or missing the clues I did have. But then my heart was so warmed and I was so grateful that God was watching out for my boy in those situations and brought him out and turned his life around. When I think of how easily he could have gone the other way…well, I just can’t think about that too long. And to see his growth and to see him now as a young man seeking to walk with the Lord, and to have an openness between us that was absent those years ago — my heart overflows.

I don’t know why this came to mind this morning or why I felt strongly led to share it. Perhaps another parent can use the encouragement. We do need to “be sober, be vigilant; because your [and their] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  Whom resist stedfast in the faith” (I Peter 5:8-9). We can’t afford to be lax, but then again we can’t be neurotically overzealous to the point of driving them away. And at some point in their lives they will spend time away from us. We can trust God for wisdom and balance in raising them and trust Him to see and deal with what we don’t see. He cares for them even more than we do and wants what is best for them infinitely more.

I posted this poem, written by Amy Carmichael for the children under her care, a couple of years ago, but it is one that I come back to often and that echoes my own heart’s desire for my children as well as other children I know:

Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying,
We are praying for our children.

Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril,
Father, hear us for our children.

From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand, pluck them,
Father, hear us for our children.

From the worldling’s hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Father. Father, keep our children

Through life’s troubled waters steer them,
Through life’s bitter battle cheer them,
Father, Father, be thou near them.

Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless pleading thronging,
Holy Father, for our children.

And wherever they may bide,
Lead them home at eventide.

7 thoughts on “From the worldling’s hollow gladness

  1. How blessed you are! My boys have certainly been through their share of troubles and hanging with the wrong crowd… but I’ve seen a great deal of progress in them too these past few years since I have concentrated on praying FOR them… I do believe they will find Jesus before all is said and done. My girls too. That poem is wonderful! I love Amy Carmichael!

  2. Pingback: 31 Days of Missionary Stories: Amy Carmichael and Singleness | Stray Thoughts

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