Think about your parenting experience. You have heard the call in Scripture to shepherd your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord You may wonder why you did not hear these things years ago. But wherever you are now, God calls you to take hold of the plow. When and where you heard biblical truth about child-rearing must be left to God’s sovereign purposes. Start now to shepherd your child’s heart, regardless of your child’s age! The apostle Paul instructs us to respond to opposition, guiding the Lord’s servant to
. . . [correct] his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:25–26)
But how can we hope to soften hearts that have already become hard? Our children harden their hearts toward God just as they harden their hearts toward us. Perhaps you are among the scores of Christian parents whose children professed faith in Christ, but now you find that you live with unresolved brokenness in your relationships.
How can we begin this restoration? That’s where the following chapters will lead us. It will be a process. Remember, relationships were not damaged over a brief time or series of events; the damage happened over years. Reconciliation will take time to initiate and implement. We must learn how to disarm rebellion. This is a spiritual journey in which we remove our child’s sense of justification for rebelling against us so that he is left only with resistance to God. Then the power and grace of the gospel can invade the heart—the seat of rebellion.
This is serious work. When children have strayed from home, either figuratively or literally, parents suffer agony and grief just under the surface of everyday life. You may have read this and felt that this doesn’t describe your circumstances exactly. But hear me out before you conclude that this book is about other people’s relationship struggles with their teen or adult child. Allow the overall truth to guide your conclusions. The specific details and illustrations may not exactly fit your experience, but God’s Word holds gospel-powered reconciliation for renewing and healing broken relationships.
I know that the thoughts I am sharing with you will be challenging and may be very painful for you to read and consider. But I want to encourage you that I am speaking to you from firsthand experience. I have learned these difficult spiritual lessons, so I do not bring them to you lightly or thoughtlessly. I have experienced them myself, first as a rebellious teen and later as a mother.
Reconciliation and healing in your relationship with your rebellious child will always be humbling—but God has promised in his Word that he gives grace to the humble—that he brings beauty from ashes when we are willing to humble ourselves before him, and that he will lift us up.
Excerpted from chapter one of It’s Not Too Late: Restoring Broken Relationships with Teenage and Adult Children by Margy Tripp