Kids Gone Astray

By Cindy Koch

Veteran parents confirm one of the greatest fears I have as a mother. To be sure, there are many fears that come along with the care of our own little ones. Mostly immediate, are they healthy and polite? Are they on track to graduate and behaving when you are not around? Will they be successful and prosperous? We put in decades of work, money, and sacrifice so that our children will grow up well, whatever that means. But there is a pit in the depth of my heart that the most important thing will turn out badly. And the tears of the mothers and fathers walking this path—sometimes years ahead of me—trickle back to my steps today.

While school, manners, exercise, sports, and peer groups are all formative for our children, there is one thing that will distinctly shape the rest of their life: their belief in God. Whether he is a “force” outside of perception, whether he is non-existent, whether He is the God who speaks through a revealed Word, this spiritual guidance will direct decisions, thoughts, hopes, and comfort. For the moms and dads who have built their family centered on the work of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, passing on this faith to their children becomes vital. Because it is not only a matter of our immediate cares and concerns—if he is good today and whether he be blessed tomorrow. No, it’s so much more than that. The parents who teach their children to listen to the great “I Am” pass on His words of eternal life. The parents who raise their children to love the God of the Bible plant the seed of eternal trust in Him alone. The parents who bring their children to the gifts of Christ connect these little ones to endure with the body of Christ. Our children, when they are young, can easily be saturated in the simple gifts of the Gospel, by the direction of us parents. But my fear is that when they grow, and life will certainly oppose, they will then walk a little farther away and finally no longer return to the gifts so freely given.

Parents losing their kiddos to the cares of the world, parents missing their children in the joyful celebrations of eternity to come, parents wondering what they did wrong—I have heard so many saddening stories.  So many tears and regrets from the past. It is our job, after all, to pass this beautiful life of trust to our own children. It is part of our own hope to see them standing with us on the new earth. And I terribly fear for my own children, that they will forget their God and abandon their salvation.

But parents of the Gospel, we have hope for our children who may go astray. Just as our God was not dependent on our own emotions or work or fervor or understanding, He is also not dependent on your child’s whims of the heart. Our God is a Great Shepherd who calls after even our most distant child. He knows His own children, near or far. He marked them with water and blood tangibly so they can touch feel and taste His promise, even if it was long ago. He overcame their lives, whether they wanted it or not, by His gifts of Baptism and words of forgiveness.

Even here, our God does not stop. Christ drowned every insult your child now hurls back at God. Christ covered every forgotten word of hope your child can’t remember even today. Christ died for your failures as mother and father, and presently He keeps forgiving even you.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

Parents of the Gospel, we trust in the same God who delivered us to go after our children. God’s goodness from the beginning of creation pursues our children who wander astray. God’s overflowing mercy by the blood of Christ stalks our kids from the beginning of their journey with the Lord. Prayerfully, their confession will be the same as yours—remembering that God was always there, searching tirelessly for His precious lamb. It’s never too late, that their hope will be the same as yours – a promised life beyond the grave. Because certainly, their God is the same as yours—good and merciful, trailing a miserable sinner to reward as a blessed saint. So even if our children have forgotten, take comfort: God has not.