Parenting That Lasts Forever
by Rhonda Holland
D

ecember 2007 was a difficult time for my family. My sisters and I knew our beloved mother was soon to be leaving for her eternal home in heaven; yet an almost tangible peace filled her hospital room.

The doctors and hospital staff often commented on the peacefulness and the obvious love we had for each other even in this valley of great sorrow. One of Mother’s physicians was also an instructor at the medical center. He later asked permission to write about “the supernatural atmosphere of the peace” that he felt while in her room so he could discuss it with his medical students.

    Have a Christ-Centered Mind-set

I am the middle daughter of three girls. We are a close family, and the tie that has always kept us together is our common love for God and His Word. Our parents raised us to love the Lord, our family, and our church. We were instructed to always look to the Lord for whatever we faced, because He was the answer to every question life presents.

As Mother was leaving this life, my sisters and I were alone in the room with her. We each expressed our love, and she in turn did the same. I leaned in close and told my sweet mother she was a wonderful example of the “Proverbs 31 woman.” I said she had nothing to fear in leaving us, for she had “clothed with scarlet”—the scarlet blood of the Lamb—“all her household” (v. 21).

I reminded her that she had been the first to introduce us to Jesus. The God she had served so beautifully before us was also our God! I told her we were there to praise God with her as she entered His presence.

What a blessing it was to see her leave in peace and joy, knowing her work here was complete and that an eternal reunion day would be ours to gain!

Our mother wasn’t a teacher or preacher. . . not behind a pulpit or podium, anyway. She led by example in word and deed. She was always supportive of us following God’s will for our lives even if it didn’t seem logical at the time. Her mind-set is reflected in Mary’s words about Jesus in John 2:5: “Whatever He says to you, do it!” (NKJV).

    Keep the Future in Focus

We as Christian parents must lead by word and deed. We must set an example—a clear path—for our children to walk. When we miss the mark, we must be ready to admit it and quickly get back on course, knowing our children will be ever mindful and watchful of our choices and behavior. The adage “Do as I say, not as I do” is just a waste of words!

There are examples throughout the Scripture of parents who got it right . . . others who missed the mark . . . and some who did both. Consider Hezekiah, a king who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 18:3 NKJV). He trusted in God so much that there was not a king of Judah like him before or after his reign (vv. 5-6). However, at the end of his life, he seemed to lose sight and concern for the future of his posterity. When Isaiah prophesied tragedies concerning his possessions and family (20:17-18), Hezekiah responded, “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good. . . . Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?” (v. 19 NIV).

Sadly, Hezekiah’s response implied he could willingly accept the prophecy as long as the tragedies did not occur in his lifetime.

If the Lord delays His return, we should be mindful as parents of our children and their future after our departure. We must give prayer coverage that lasts, examples that teach long after we are gone, and words of wisdom for them to live by when we are here only in their memories.

Jacob, unlike Hezekiah in many ways, missed the mark multiple times in his life.

However, in the end, Jacob had learned the value of what really mattered. Hebrews 11:21 records, “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff” (NKJV). His desire was to leave a righteous heritage for his lineage.

    Lead a Consistent Life

As parents and grandparents in our ever-changing world, consistency in our walk is imperative! If we do stumble in our relationship with Christ, we must quickly demonstrate a willingness to repent and return to a right standing with God. We must be consistent in times of joy and
in times of sorrow. We must show our children—regardless of their ages—that our redeemed nature will come through at our place of “pressing” as much as it does when we are in our place of “blessing”! This shines a clear light of truth on the path of life that can quickly become darkened by circumstances we face.

Speaking at our dad’s funeral in 2002, I used Psalm 1, for our father was truly “like a tree planted by the rivers of water” (v. 3). He had faced many challenges in life and had suffered physically in his final years, but his faith was consistent. In the last years of his life, Daddy was confined to a wheelchair, but his spiritual “walk” with Christ remained steady.

The Book of Psalms begins by describing a life that is built on a firm foundation in God, and it concludes with the shout, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (150:6 NKJV).

Between Psalm 1 and Psalm 150, every type of emotion is recorded . . . songs of victory and songs of battles lost are penned . . . sorrows are expressed and joyful anthems are sung and shouted in triumph! Life is like the Book of Psalms. And, just like the Psalms, we must start our children out on a firm foundation in God. We must teach them consistency and demonstrate it before them. In the end, their final declaration will be that of Psalm 150—triumphant praise to God!

    Keep Looking to the Lord

We can teach our children many powerful truths from God’s Word that will bring them joy, contentment, and certainty in these perilous times. Among them, one simple message preached by John the Baptist—who also lived in troubled times awaiting the coming Messiah—is, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Every lesson we teach and every example we demonstrate must instruct our children “Behold the Lamb of God!” Anything less is insufficient, for Jesus is the answer.

As children and young adults, my sisters and I were instructed to always look to the Lord for whatever we faced, because He was the answer to every question life presented. Behold the Lamb of God! He takes away sin and wins the battles that sin causes; He moves mountains and brings victory to impossible situations. His sufficient grace is always available and always amazing!

Let us live daily “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). In doing so, we will keep the path clearly marked and the light shining brightly for those following in our steps, both now and in the days ahead. We will teach our children how to love, how to live, and how to leave this world victoriously.