Grant to my son Solomon a whole heart that he may keep your commandments . . . (1 Chron. 29:19 ESV).
When I was in seminary I had a philosophy of religion course with a teacher who took time to share his personal faith story with our class. To be honest, there’s not much about his testimony that I can recall in detail. One piece of his story, however, has stayed with me since I first heard him share it nearly thirty years ago.
He told us that he didn’t grow up in what I refer to as a ‘church-going family.’ His exposure to faith came about through other people in his life. My impression now is that church involvement was the product of his own initiative or the invitation of others, perhaps both.
Here was a Baptist pastor and professor sharing a faith journey that had very little to do with his parents. Such a story was very different from my own experience of growing up in the home of a Southern Baptist pastor. It was remarkable to me that my professor was a Christian at all, much less a minister of the gospel.
Far more often, however, I have marveled at stories that move in the opposite direction. Here and there I’ve come across people whose parents faithfully took them to church. They were exposed to songs and stories of Jesus from an early age. And yet as they came to adulthood, those songs and stories and parental influences found no root in their heart.
How does that happen?
The Rest of the Story
My last couple of posts have been looking at David’s prayer for his son Solomon. We’ve given specific attention to the first and basic request of David’s prayer – that God would give Solomon a ‘whole heart.’ With a heart fully devoted to God, Solomon would walk in God’s ways and accomplish God’s purposes for his life. But it all begins with the heart.
So how did things work out for Solomon?
Honestly, this is the part of Solomon’ story that gives me pause. He starts out well. Having assumed leadership of Israel, he begins not by asking God for power or wealth but for a wise and discerning heart. This prayer pleases God and God makes Solomon famous for his wisdom.
But the years go by and the passing of time seems to bring about soul erosion in Solomon’s life. David prayed that Solomon would have a whole heart, but in 1 Kings 11:9 we are told that Solomon’s heart had turned away from the Lord. David had prayed that Solomon would walk in God’s ways and keep God’s commandments, but we learn that Solomon didn’t do that either.
Solomon became a man with a divided heart, setting up shrines for other gods, pulled away from a singular commitment to the God of his father David.
The Perfect Son of David
Some of you know the peculiar pain of praying for a child who has wandered far from everything you hoped and dreamed for them. The prayers you’ve offered, as best you can tell right now, have come to nothing. What do you do?
For one thing, remember that there are limits to the role of parenting, even parenting that relies heavily on prayer. We can pray for our children, but we can never be the Holy Spirit for our children. We are called to pray, but let God be God and trust the Spirit to do what only the Spirit can do.
Second, let’s not forget that God used Solomon in significant ways. The book of Proverbs is largely attributed to Solomon. If we accept Solomon as the author of Ecclesiastes (and this is debated) we see a man genuinely struggling to understand what makes for a good life – a quest that leads him to God. And then, of course, there’s the building of the temple. Solomon might have turned from God, but God never turned from Solomon. Never give up on your children.
Finally, Solomon was never meant to be the perfect Son of David, king of Israel. That king would come much later. Our hearts are never perfectly whole, but Jesus would live his entire life with a whole heart. He would die for us and his perfections would become ours by faith. So, yes, we pray for our kids. But we trust in the grace and mercy that is ours in Jesus, not in our own worthy lives.
Prayer allows us to relinquish our children, not control them. Place your kids in God’s hands as you pray for them today.
Merciful God, we recognize that our children are not truly ours. They belong to you, and their hearts and lives are in your hand. With our prayer we entrust them to you and your grace, knowing that you are always faithful. Keep us faithful as we lead the next generation in the way of Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.
2 thoughts on “Our Wandering Children, Our Faithful God”
Thank you for this message. I know it will be a blessing and comfort to so many parents. We miss you and Marnie. Hope all is well and so thankful to have the opportunity to continue to be blessed by your gift of writing. Please say hello to Marnie! Much love Kathy Anderson
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Your last writing before this one brought tears to my eyes. And this one is such a needed message for me to hear. For too long I’ve been trying to intervene instead of letting go and letting God take the wheel. I have found encouragement in your recent writings and thank you for sharing with us. Please pray for my family and my beloved children. please pray for me to trust he will watch over them and keep them safe as they take this journey. I need so badly to “let go and let God” ! Thank you again for theses posts.