Back in early May we went out of town and left our seedlings and plants we had just bought in the capable hands of one of our friends. I was so excited to plant these when we got home, as we left home in a snow storm, but would return home with perfect gardening weather. While we were on our trip, I got some news I wasn’t expecting. A friend of mine who was caring for the bees while we were gone called and asked me where the sugar water was for their food. I explained where it was and he said it was empty. My heart sank, I knew that my tender plants had just been given a sugar buzz and would soon crash into a coma. Crystal called, and her friend was just sick about the mistake. That’s what it was though, a simple mistake that could have happened to anyone. She took it upon herself to take all the plants back to her house and try and revive them from the bath of sugar that they got.
I was impressed that Crystal’s friend owned it immediately. How many of us look for an excuse when we mess up? Not her, she tried very hard, but the daily reports were that the plants looked sick. That was confirmed when we got home and saw them. We put out a few of the peppers in the garden, but had to ultimately make another trip to the nursery for our new batch of plants. Through this, I learned something very simple, don’t you love lessons that God gives us when we need them?
Most of us who strive to have green thumbs know that there are certain things that are good for plants and certain things that are bad for them. Most will add some type of fertilizer to them periodically for strength and good soil nutrition and we will check the PH of the soil periodically to make sure we don’t need to add something to make the soil perfect for growing our plants and veggies. I recommend checking the PH of your soil at the beginning of each growing season and monthly during the season to make sure you are on top of any changes that could affect your yield. As I was thinking about this it hit me that our kids are the same way. We give them Juice plus and other vitamins to help them grow, we provide water over sodas and sugary drinks to help them be as healthy as possible. Like a good garden, we want our children to grow strong and healthy. This is where God comes in.
Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” That seems simple enough, yet it sparks all kinds of debate in many circles. I try and take a literal approach. Each child has a particular bent that they are more likely to move towards, according to some, we as parents should let them move in this bent. This is where I love God’s illustrations in nature. When I look at a tree I see a majestic towering figure that gives shade and shelter to many animals and even me and my family. It converts CO2 to oxygen so you and I can breathe. It gives wood for furniture, floors, walls, fire. Trees have many wonderful uses. But not sick trees, not twisted up gnarled trees. they may have one or two good purposes, but generally speaking they cannot do what the other trees can. Think for a second how a twisted tree or bent over tree gets that way. It naturally has a desire to reach straight up and grow tall and fill out. That would be the natural way. When you or I plant a tree, we often will give it plenty of water and tie a few strings or bungees and stake them in the ground to keep the tree straight. We keep the bungees on for years. Why? Because we have a vision for the way a tree is to go. We are guiding it so that when the tree is old it won’t bend over and be gnarled.
That is our responsibility as parents. It isn’t our job to see the sin nature in our children and dismiss it as their natural bent, it is our charge to show them the way to go, so that when they are old they will continue to move stronger in the Lord, and lead their families into the way they should go. Might I dare say, it’s not even the church’s job to do this. It is ours! So this brings me to the next part of the analogy.
What are we feeding them? What are we feeding our kids in their lives? Not food wise, although nutrition choices as children translate into our nutrition choices as adults. I am talking about what are we feeding their lives, their souls. What direction are we giving them? Are we staking them to God’s Word like one who would grow a tree? Are we protecting their tender roots from the sweet alluring syrup of the world that wishes to trap and spiritually destroy our kids? What are they viewing online? What music are they listening to? How much time do we directly spend with our kids; pouring influence into them, seeing when they are spiritually sick, using the tools God gives us in the Word to train and help them grow into godly men and women?
You may wonder why I haven’t used the phrase “productive member of society”. You may also wonder why I said it wasn’t the churches job to train our kids in this way. Well, that’s because it is our job to do those things and the job of the Holy Spirit to do the rest. You see if our children’s hearts are knit to God and His Word, then they will have a true relationship with him. A true relationship doesn’t focus on the list of rules we all fail in daily, it focuses on the heart of the one in fellowship with God. That’s why God loved David, because of his heart, not because he was a great warrior or great ruler. He had a heart for God, and with that God can do anything. The rules won’t have to be berated upon our kids because out of a heart for God, they will want to obey and please Him. That is what creates a healthy life and relationship, not some paranoid fear of breaking the rules, but a true inward desire to please the one we love.
In order to see this in our children, we have to inventory what we are feeding them and how much of what they are getting. It’s not to be legalistic, it is however, about the vision for the way they should go, so that when they are old they will not depart from it.
We are all about organic gardening here on the hill and admittedly, it is not the easiest way to garden! The rewards are worth it!! We have to believe that it will be so with parenting. The trick is to be careful what you feed ‘em.