Will I Pass the Test?

  • Randy Karlberg
Kids playing with letter blocks

I think that most people really do want to do their best in life.  If life were measured by a letter grade I believe most people would say that they want to get an “A.”  Okay there are those who would totally settle for a strong “B”  but I think that most of us really want to find strong success in life. It just takes so much discipline, focus, and perseverance to make it happen.  There is pressure that comes with making the grade to be sure.  This pressure increases when it comes to being a parent of a child, or two, or even a quiver full.  I think it is a combination of loving our children and wanting what is best for them along with how well our children do in life, in some way, has an impact on how we have done as parents.   There is truth to the notion that parents have an effect on how their children go about life, and the Bible supports this idea.  However, we all realize that at some point every person makes their own decisions and lives their life in the manner that they choose, and the Bible holds every person responsible for their own actions.  But there is still the role that parents have which weighs on each parent.  And many parents are aggressive in aiding their children along the path on which they travel.  

Having five children of my own, I am very familiar with this predicament of whether to battle on behalf of our children or whether to encourage our children to work through the battle with our support and encouragement without taking on the battle for them.  It is hard to know which way to help and how best to aid your child to grow in maturity.  Truthfully it is hard to find the right balance.  Oh, we are really good at recognizing when “other” parents don’t do a good job navigating this.  But for some reason we have a hard time realizing when we are not doing our children any favors by taking on their battles for them.  We love our kids.  We don’t want to see our kids hurt or struggle.  We respond emotionally when they are having emotional turmoil.  We see the potential that others have a hard time seeing.  We know the mistakes that we made in our life and we don’t want our children to go through the same challenge.  All of these are possible motivations for why we do things as parents “on behalf” of our kids. 

I have been working with school aged children my whole life.  I have coached, counseled, taught, raised, pastored, and superintended kids since I was a kid.  If we just go back to my being a counselor in high school that means over 46 years working with kids of many different ages and backgrounds.  Yes you are very perceptive, I am aged!  I have had some very interesting experiences with parents through the years as they seek to parent in the best way for their child.  And quite honestly some of these parenting efforts have resulted in emotional atrophy or worse pushing the child so that as they grow they despise the efforts or methods their parents have undertaken.  Many times parents are blind to the fact that they want “success” more than their child does.  There are many examples I have encountered of this challenge in parenting.  Two ways that regularly show themselves are in academics and athletics.  I have experienced countless conversations with parents who want their child in, say a higher level Math or English class.  But the reality is that the child is not ready for that level, and they would quickly be overwhelmed with the expectations and the pressure.  I have had too many to count conversations with parents wanting to start their child in kindergarten before they are five or even when they are just turning five.  They are emotionally not ready, but of course I am not the parent, just an administrator who does not know their child.  And this one really has nothing to do with intelligence or academics.  It is simply an emotional maturity issue.  I have also had many conversations with parents regarding athletics and their child being cut from a team or lack of playing time.  They do not understand how the coach cannot see what they see?  It must be a personal issue with the child, they say.  I want to reiterate that I have had to navigate these decisions and issues with five of my own children.  I do totally understand what parents are going through! 

I have come to the realization that what we as parents struggle with is that we keep putting our children on the throne of our life!  We would never say that of course, but our thoughts and actions point directly to the fact that our children have taken over the most prominent place in our hearts and minds.  And I understand how this happens.  We are totally crazy about our kids.  So much so that we don’t see how our actions and words will ultimately end up detrimental to the very children we are trying to raise up.  

This past week I was reading in my devotion time about Abraham in Genesis 22.  Now if you want an example of a parent having an idealistic view of their child that we could understand, it would be Abraham’s thoughts towards Isaac.  Remember, God had promised Abraham that He would make him a great nation and that he would have descendants who would outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore and the stars in the heavens.  Just a couple of problems, Abraham had no children and he and Sarah were very old!  So when he and Sarah had Isaac, the one son of the Covenant, they were both very old and only had one shot to get this parenting thing right.  We can understand if they were uptight parents and had an idealistic view of their son. 

That is where we pick up the test that God put Abraham through.  In Genesis 22:2 we read, God said to Abraham “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”  Amazingly enough we don’t read that Abraham argued with God, he didn’t question Him, furthermore he did not hesitate but rather did exactly what he was told.  I am pretty sure I would not have responded in like manner. I am further amazed at Abraham when he responds to Isaac’s question in verse 7.  “My father! And he said, ‘here am I, my son.’ He said, Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?  Abraham said, ‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’   I could not have held myself together at that moment.  This is your one and only son and you are asked to give him as a sacrifice?  How could God ask such a thing?  Is He willing to offer His only Son as a sacrifice?  Yes!! And Thank you Lord that you were willing!! Well, they go up the mountain, prepare the altar, prepare the wood, Abraham ties Isaac up and lays him on the altar.  God only stops Abraham from killing Isaac when the knife is on the way down!  We read in verse 11, “But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!”  And he said, ‘Here am I.’  ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’”  Abraham had passed God’s test with an A+!  As I am sure you remember, God provided a ram as the sacrifice on Mount Moriah.  Not only did Abraham not have his son on the throne of his life, he was willing to place him on the altar!  You see Abraham had ultimate faith in God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.  

We read in Hebrew 11:17-19, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’  He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”  Abraham passed the test because he had faith in his Heavenly Father.  

How about you?  Do you have Faith that God is in control?  It is easier to answer in the affirmative when we are considering only ourselves.  But what about regarding your child?  Do you have Faith that you can trust God with your child?    Don’t answer too quickly.  But take time to think and ask the Lord to help you surrender your children up to Him!  He cares more for them than you do!  Don’t be a parent that has your son or daughter on the trophy shelf of your life.  Rather seek to be wise as you offer them as a gift back to the one who gave them to you in the first place.  How will you do with this test?