Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: the call of God

Parents: Don’t run ahead of God!

I heard it again the other night — the failure of a childhood conversion.

The counsellor at a Christian summer camp had talked about Jesus and heaven and then asked the children if they wanted to go to be with Jesus in heaven when they died. A little girl was among those who said yes. The counsellor led her in a prayer and then told her that she was saved. She tried to do all the right things after that, but God didn’t seem very real and eventually she quit trying. After many twists and turns in her life she found herself a single mother in desperate need of help.  This time her prayer came from her heart and God was there to answer and has continued to guide and sustain her.

It’s not always the camp counsellor, most often it’s Mom and Dad. They want an assurance that their precious child will not be lost and so they begin at a tender age to prompt their child to give her heart to the Lord. Precious Child is happy to please Mom and Dad and recites the sinner’s prayer, often at the age of four, five or six. Mom and Dad rejoice that Precious Child is now a child of God. As soon as Precious Child grows up and leaves home, she drifts away from the church and her profession of Christianity.

One Canadian writer described these young people as the Goodbye Generation — those who appear outwardly to be faithful Christians during their youth. Yet when they say goodbye to Mom and Dad and face life on their own, they also say goodbye to faith and church. I think it is fair to ask if they ever really had a relationship with God. A survey a year or two ago found that young people who find meaning and direction in Bible reading and prayer while growing up, continued to live out their faith after they left home.

I know Moms and Dads, you love your children, you want them to be saved. But salvation is a personal relationship between your child and God. You cannot arrange, manage or force the beginning of that relationship. If you try, the results might be heart-breaking.

Wait for God to call your child. You are not the Holy Spirit, you cannot force God to do His part. Just trust that He will. Neither can you persuade or force your child to do his part. That is entirely between him and God.

I know that it can be painful to wait. While you are waiting, you might want to check your own relationship with God, ask Him if your life is all the He wants it to be. Don’t give your child a mixed message by calling yourself a Christian, yet living as though God has little place in your life.

So many of the things that are done to make church attractive to young people are a tragic waste of time and effort.  Churches should not be trying to convince young people that they can have Jesus plus all the worthless baubles that the world runs after. Tell them that it will cost something to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. Young people are searching for meaning in life, don’t try to sidetrack them with empty fun.

But most of all, let God do the God part. Let God do the calling, let your child make the choice to respond to that call and then let God do the adopting. God will not adopt your child as His own if all He sees is a forced or halfhearted repentance. But when the repentance is truly from the heart then God responds by wrapping your child in His love. This is what you really want, isn’t it? Then try not to get in God’s way.

Time is NOT on my side

Minister Isaac Akinyombo of Nigeria, while preaching in a Canadian congregation, told the story of a lady in his country that got converted and wanted to be part of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.  There was a little problem, however: she intended to dance at her mother’s funeral and she was told that the church in Nigeria considered that to be a sin.

Her mother wasn’t dead yet, mind you, or anywhere near to being dead.  But in their culture it is terribly important to follow all the right procedures at a funeral so that the spirit of the departed one can find rest and not return to trouble the living.  It is not just dancing, but that is a major part and it involves serious non-Christian beliefs about death and the life hereafter.

This young lady could not face opting out of the tradition which her family would expect of her.  So she said, “OK, I will wait until my mother dies and I will dance at her funeral, then I will come to the church.”  Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?  There would be lots of time, she was young, her mother was old.

Brother Isaac paused momentarily, then sadly added, “The poor lady died before her mother did.”   Time was not on her side after all.

I attended a small town school here in Saskatchewan, about an hour and a half from where I now live.   I graduated from high school at the age of 17.  Four of my fellow students died over the next four years.

One was driving way too fast in a snow storm and rear ended a semi.  He had been drinking, but even when we are sober it’s easy to make foolish choice in the reduced visibility of a snow storm.  I recall a time when I had been visiting my future wife and was making the return journey to the town where I worked.  The semi in front of me was driving way to slow and I pulled out to pass.  I got about halfway past when I saw headlights coming toward me through the swirling snow.  I hit the brakes, hard, and got back into my lane just in time to let the oncoming semi go by.  From there on I contentedly followed the semi  in front of me.

Another young man was helping his father dig trenches for water and sewer lines to their house.  They were digging deep trenches, entirely by hand,  a wall collapsed on him and his life was over.

Another boy wanted to escape the flat Canadian prairies and see the world, so he enlisted in the US Navy.  He went through training and specialized in radio communications.  The day finally came when he boarded an aircraft carrier and departed on his dream of seeing the world.  A day out from land an electrical problem caused a fire in the communications cabin and he died.

Then there was a young lady, only 9 or 10 days younger than me.    She was a slim, active, clean-living young lady, a preacher’s daughter.  There was no advance warning that anything was wrong, yet she suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 21.

Nevertheless, we still tend to think that we have all the time in the world to consider God’s call and decide what to do about it.  Of course there are cases of people getting converted late in life.  One of those, a lady who was born again at the age of 90, was asked what was the greatest sin she ever committed.  Without hesitation she responded, “Refusing the call of God when I was 17.”

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  Isaiah 55:6-7

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