At the Lord’s prompting, I will repost a blog from last summer for those who, like this momma, are growing weary on their parenting journey….
Most believers would probably agree that we are either in the “last days” or at least approaching them. In that case, it’s very likely that we are raising the sons and daughters that this scripture speaks of.
When I talk to moms about their kids today, I often hear that spiritual gifts, anointing, and callings are already presenting themselves. We are living in a time when the voice of God needs to be heard more than ever. Our children may very well be His voice in the wilderness! I also hear about the ways that the enemy is attacking our children and I see that there is serious opposition to the godly generation that God is raising up within our families.
My husband and I have been facing some tough discipline and character issues with our son, who is four. Over the past year, we have worked through one area after another with our boy, and we’ve come to the final frontier for this age. (Yes, I know there will be many more things to come as he grows.) We have faced such discouragement lately as we’ve stood our ground and waited for little Levi to come into agreement with us. I’ve cried many tears and have wanted to give up more times than I can count!
In the midst of my discouragement, God sent me a word from two different sources. While texting a dear friend about a tough day with my boy, she responded with an encouraging, “Don’t give up! Imagine what it would have been like to be Samson’s mom!” Wouldn’t you know, the very next morning, I opened my daily devotion and the subject was Samson and his parents!
I understood that God was showing me something. I flipped my Bible open… right to the book of Judges, where the story of Samson is recorded. I had to laugh out loud at that point. I spent some time reading chapters 13-16 and learning what I could about Samson and his family.
In the Judges period of Israel’s history, the Jewish people were living in the promised land that Moses and Joshua led them to. However, they started to live according to the ways of the nations around them instead of worshiping Jehovah God. In the book of Judges, we see periods of obedience and God’s blessing alternating with periods of idol worship and the consequences of that disobedience. The primary consequence was usually the lifting of His protection and the subsequent domination by a nearby people and hated enemy: the Philistines.
When His people cried out to Him, God would send someone to lead the people in victory over the Philistines and back to a life that honored Him. Samson was one of the judges that God provided to save the people from their enemies. The Lord showed me a few things through Samson’s story to help us in our parenting journey.
The first thing I learned was that parenting is more than you and I can handle on our own. Samson’s parents knew that their boy was chosen by God for a purpose. They knew that they could not raise him on their own. Samson’s father prayed, “Teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” (13:8) What an amazing prayer! Parenting requires far more wisdom and stamina than any of us have. We need the Lord to guide us and strengthen us along the way.
I also saw that parenting requires being set apart. Not only did the Lord want Samson to be set apart and live the vows of a Nazarite, but his mother was also to observe the vows while she was pregnant (13:4-5). They were to keep away from alcohol and unclean foods in addition to some other restrictions. They recognized that God was calling their whole family to be set apart from the world, to be used for His holy purpose.
Probably the most valuable thing I learned from Samson is that willful children must be trained in order to fulfill the calling God has on their lives. Although Samson’s parents made sure that he observed the Nazarite vows growing up, it’s clear that they never taught him to choose these things for himself. As long as they could make decisions for him, the boy kept the vows. But as soon as became a young man, he followed his own ideas and passions (14:2). He was willful. He married whom he wanted, he ate and drank what he wanted (14:9). He took what he wanted (16:1). He never learned to deny himself when his wants were not good for him, and he paid dearly for that.
Our children must be trained to set aside their own will for the sake of the family, and for the sake of obedience to God. Yes, there are times when our children can make choices and have things that they enjoy. The problem comes when a child has to have their own way or it upsets the balance of the home. Is it easier to indulge a willful child than to train him? You bet! I have done it many times! However, as the saying goes, “No pain, no gain.” Or as the Savior says in Matthew 16:26, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
The last thing I learned from Samson is that anointing doesn’t produce integrity, character, and obedience. It’s obvious that the Lord chose Samson for a holy purpose. The scripture is clear that he was stirred by the Holy Spirit (13:25) and empowered by the Holy Spirit (14:6,19, 15:14) to do amazing things. God sent an angel to announce that the child Samson was coming, and set forth strict guidelines for his upbringing. He was to be a spiritual leader and bring deliverance to the people. Samson’s parents took his calling seriously, but they did not take his training seriously. Clearly, anointing is not enough. Being chosen is not enough. Integrity, character, and obedience require training. Just as we must learn to set aside our will, to be humble before the Lord, and to deny our flesh, our children must learn the same.
Though he made mistakes along the way, we see that God’s anointing continued on Samson. The Lord was able to use him despite his failings. He still used Samson to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines, often allowing him to be provoked in his flesh to exact revenge on the enemy. However, we do not see any spiritual revival in the nation during Samson’s lifetime. God could have used him to bring a spiritual rebirth to the nation, but this was a man that was never trained to set aside his own will for his Heavenly Father’s will. God could have done so much more, but Samson wasn’t ready for that kind of work.
Are you raising a Samson? A willful child who has the mark of the Lord upon him already? Maybe you’re raising a Mary, a John the Baptist, or a Daniel. God has a great calling for the children of this generation. Who knows what end-time wonders we will see in our day? For those that are raising prophets, visionaries and watchmen on God’s towers… stand strong. Be set apart. Press in and let God show you how to raise each child.
Remember that He uses our failures just as effectively as He uses our successes to train us. Paul says in Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God.” Do not forget that His grace abounds whether you stand or fall today on your parenting journey.
The goal is not to raise perfect little saints. Let us raise Christ lovers, Spirit vessels, and Father followers.
Lord, use us to prepare our sons and daughters for the glorious plans you have for them!
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photo credit: Micah De Silvia (text added)