For years, Ben and Sarah routinely said a prayer they hoped would not come true for any of their four children. They knew how kids could be. They knew how the culture pulls good kids from good homes to make not-so-good decisions. My friend Ben is especially aware because he was more than a bit rebellious in his younger days. Looking at him, you wouldn’t know it today, but Ben was deep into narcotics in his early twenties.
So, Ben and Sarah prayed specifically that if and when their children did something illegal or immoral or simply made a really bad choice, that they would get caught.
That’s the exact words they used. And not long ago their prayer was answered. It was a holiday weekend with lots of activity in the house, and Sarah needed something that was last seen in their teenage daughter’s closet. Looking there, she found a bottle of rum and some fruit-mixer concoction.
The Christmas celebration took a sharp, unpleasant, yet necessary turn. With sincere apologies, some of the guests were asked to leave. The festivities were postponed. The family huddled and their daughter was confronted.
I wasn’t there, so I don’t know exactly what was said. But the core message was very personal and very compelling. Up until that day, Ben’s four children only had an inkling of their father’s drug addiction from two decades earlier. How far he’d fallen. And how God had rescued him. It wasn’t a pleasant story. And it’s not a story you should tell to small children. After all, when kids are young and impressionable, they need to see dad as a hero. Invincible. A solid rock they can count on.
Ben had been that dependable dad for their entire lives. Which is a great thing. And which made his testimony to his children even more powerful. Over the years, Ben had shared his story with men’s groups and other individuals who were struggling with addiction. He talked about Satan’s power, hitting bottom, and finding hope only after turning his life over to Christ. But his kids only knew small bits and pieces of the story.
That evening they heard something they didn’t want to hear, but needed to hear. However, they were old enough to listen, understand, and learn from their father’s mistakes. The teenager who was hiding the liquor really didn’t receive a severe punishment. Listening to her dad open up about his personal battle — the stumbling, helplessness, surrender, and recovery — had more than enough impact. In a sense, the family was broken that night. But they soon healed stronger than ever.
Thinking about Ben and Sarah, the word that comes to mind is courage. Courage to overcome. Courage to trust. Courage to pray the way they did for their kids. And courage to see the big picture. They weren’t just dealing with a bottle of rum found in a teenager’s closet. They were standing up against Satan who had chosen that Christmas season to seize a new foothold in their family. But the father of lies and deceit didn’t have a chance. Instead of sweeping it under the rug or delaying any repercussions until after the family event, that mom and dad addressed the situation firmly, efficiently, and without hesitation. How did they know what to do and what to say? Only because that’s what they had been praying for.
Your past may be different than Ben’s. But your children are facing the same cultural challenges. Do you have the courage to pray for your children to get caught? Will you have the courage to confront your children’s unhealthy choices at the top of the slippery slope?
PRAYER FOR WISE CHOICES
Heavenly Father. We pray that our kids make choices that honor you. But we also know that our kids have sinned and will sin. In their humanness, they will fall short of your glory. In humility and brokenness, Lord, we ask that you open our eyes to those times when we need to intervene. We pray they get caught. In those difficult moments, we pray that we have the courage and wisdom to respond with love and truth. And, thank you Lord for preparing our heart and minds to be the parents our children need in every situation. In times of joy. And in times when the world seems to be crumbling around us. Thank you for being our rock. We love and trust you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
2 Thessalonians 3:2-3 NIV
Jay Payleitner is a national speaker on parenting and marriage and best-selling author of 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad and What If God Wrote Your Bucket List? His latest book is 52 Ways to Connect as a Couple. For more, go to www.jaypayleitner.com.