Parents, it is your choice. You can be your child’s adversary or you can be his refuge. Someone might be thinking, “Wait a minute, my teenager is the adversary, not me. And if he wants refuge, then he needs to start acting like he wants that!” As a father of five children, I hear you. But stay with me.
Teenage life can be challenging. The impact of a Godless culture, education that is rooted in pragmatism, sexual immorality being peddled as tolerance and bodies morphing into young adults is a lot to face. Add to this the struggles of their own sins and the teenage years can be troubling ones.
Parents, here is what must not be missed; the Christian life only makes sense if we understand how Jesus deals with our own struggles and disobedience. We are to model his care for us to our children. Jesus does not deal with me by constantly reminding me of the long and growing list of my sins and the ways I have not trusted him. Rather, he is my refuge and resting place, not because of my track record but because of his covenant commitment to me. Look with me again at a familiar passage:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
You can learn much from this passage. Why would Christ want me to come to him? My burdens, my weary heart, my weakness is largely due to my failure to honor Christ. I worry when I should trust. Yet, he calls me to take refuge in him. He doesn’t say I’ll be your help, your refuge when you get it all together. No, in the middle of my struggles he calls me to find rest in him. His burden is light, he is gentle and humble when I am proud and arrogant. It is only as I take comfort and rest in Christ, that I can see clearly enough to obey.
Reach out to your teenagers, offer them rest without regard to their behavior, just as Christ does to you. Christ is not your adversary, but your place of refuge and rest. Christ is not your adversary, even though you constantly challenge him and disrespect him.
Delight in your teenagers. As you become a refuge like Christ, only then can you become the resource they desperately need.