Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is That Your Wild Child?

Do you want to scream every time your daughter arrives sporting a new facial piercing?  Or does it hit a nerve when see you see the newest florescent color of your son’s hair? How do you feel about the skull and crossbones tattoo on your son’s muscular arm? Do you flinch when your child, dressed in torn, ripped jeans, saunters into a room full of conservative friends?

“Is that your wild child?” asks the wide-eyed church member. How do you respond?

John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.” Mark 1:6 (NIV)

Let’s relate our dilemma back to Elizabeth in the Bible. Do you remember her?

Elizabeth bore a child in her old age with her devout husband, Zacharias. (He was a Jewish priest). Surely thoughts of the future captivated Elizabeth during the nine months of pregnancy. Perhaps she mused, “The visions I have for this baby! The Lord God has plans for this one. Of course, the priesthood already claims his future. He’ll follow his daddy’s example. Tradition must be followed.  The baby will be like his daddy—conservative and reliable”  The son of Elizabeth and Zacharias grew up to be John the Baptist. 

Let’s give an imaginary interview to see how she might have responded about her own wild child.     

As a mom, Elizabeth, how did you cope when he began to eat locusts out in the desert? After all, his dad made a good living. Your table never lacked for kosher delights. Did you fret and plead with John?

“Yes, John was certainly a handful at times. His diet was atrocious. I never did understand his taste for locusts. He could have the finest of beef from the offerings! Of course I longed for John to conform to my expectations. I thought I knew best!  He challenged not only my parenting skills, but also my faith.”

Elizabeth, did your neighbors mention his strange garb? Did they ask, “Is that your son?"  Or did they whisper behind your back?            

Did you cringe when John would begin to speak? His outspoken words must have seemed harsh and rude when John cried to the respected men of the community, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” (Matthew 3:7 NIV)

“From his outward appearance not many would have guessed he was a PK. (That would be “priest’s kid” in Israel.)  Yet, even in my worry and distress over the odd behavior, I knew John’s heart. Although he didn’t look the part of a PK, I knew his relationship with God.”

Did the leaders look at you with raised eyebrows and scowls of scorn? Did you buy him the Jewish version of John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership? Or did you encourage him to enroll in a course similar to “How to Make Friends and Influence People?

With a wistful sigh Elizabeth replies, “At first, I did try to defend him when others criticized his strange behaviors. Of course, I was criticized too. From their viewpoint, I had not raised him in a godly manner. Oh, those times hurt!”

Finally, Elizabeth, what would you say to parents whose child doesn’t fit the “ideal” of a parent’s expectations?

“Do not attempt to explain your child.  Your child’s life is between him and God. Be proud of your child. Whenever I was asked, ‘Is that your child?’ I would answer, ‘Yes, that is my child!’”

Thank you, Elizabeth.  Thank you for this valuable advice for parents of a wild child.

Things to Ponder:

Read Luke 1 and Matthew 1.  Imagine the thoughts and emotions of Elizabeth.  Compare your thoughts about your child.  Write down every positive quality of your child and concentrate on the positives.

A Parent's Prayer:

Dear Lord, despite my child’s appearance and behavior help me to be proud of him/her. Grant me the ability to put aside other people’s opinions and to know that You are watching over my wild child. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents by Susanne Scheppmann







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