Photo by Sybil Holland




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Prodigal sons and daughters

October 20, 2012

Tags: Military training, prodigal son, parents, Navy, salute, Adopt a Chaplain

Rembrandt's "Prodigal Son"
Several wonderful organizations support military chaplains, sending packages and greetings to them when deployed. One such organization is Adopt A Chaplain. Co-founder Ben Ferguson, a pastor and retired Navy man, blogs on facebook at the group's page.

My eye was caught recently by a post for parents, "Train then Trust." It draws on Ben Ferguson's military training to provide a word of encouragement for parents concerned about their children's futures. I'll repost his thoughts here, in hopes they'll encourage you, too.

Train then Trust

I was sitting in the lobby of the Religious Ministry Center at Camp Pendleton when one of the side doors opened and someone shouted “ATTENTION ON DECK!” Without thinking I jumped to my feet and came to “civilian attention” as an admiral walked briskly through the door. As she walked by she chuckled and said “Even civilians come to attention.”

It’s been fifty plus years since I wore my Navy blues so why did I react as I did? My military training took over and what had been buried deep in my mind was triggered by the command. Chief Hardwick (Company 298 commander), your efforts to make Sailors of a bunch of raw recruits wasn’t a total waste; this “knuckle head” remembered some of what you drilled into his head!

Lingering in the back of every parent’s mind is a concern their children who are such little angels will someday rebel against everything near and dear to mom and dad. Nothing can match a parent’s anguish and heartache when a child becomes a prodigal and goes their own way to their own “far country,” to find themselves far from the constraints of home and hearth. When a child goes off the rails parents start beating themselves up wondering what they did wrong and trying to figure out how they can fix it.

Try as we might we can’t “fix them” at this stage of life—the die is cast. Some questions we parents need to ask ourselves: “What did we teach them when they were little children?” “Did what we said match what they saw us doing?” “Did we tell them do as I say not as I do?” “Did our children grow up or did we raise them?”

The answers to these questions form the basis for hope or despair. Solomon gives parents instruction with a promise when he said, Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Prov. 22:6) I’m sure there were moments Chief Hardwick despaired that we would ever get it but he drilled things into our head daily. Even though fifty plus years have passed the command went deep into my sub consciousness and brought me to attention.

Jesus tells the story of a son who took his inheritance early and went to a foreign country and wasted it living in a manner he hadn’t learned from his parents. In time the money is gone, he’s homeless and hungry “When he finally came to his senses, (Luke 15:17) he returns home to a loving father.

Does it make sense for parents to cling to the promise made by Solomon? It’s hard when a rebellious child is ripping your emotional heart out. A young man grew up in a home where he was taught Biblical principles for life but rebelled and was so far gone his return seemed a long shot at best. His mom continued to love and pray for his return for twenty plus years. Today he’s a trophy of the promise God made through Solomon.

Our job as parents is to train a child then trust God to keep his promise.