by Aline Edson

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverb 2:6

And yet Adam’s first son, Cain, murdered his brother Abel in cold blood. Gen 4:1-23

Eli, God’s high priest at Shiloh had two sons both of whom disgraced their father and his high office. Interestingly enough, Eli trained the child Samuel who later became a great prophet of God. 1 Sam. 2:23-35,3:13

David’s third son, Absalom, killed his half-brother, Amnon, and later rebelled against his father and conspired to seize the throne meant for Solomon. Yet upon his death, his weeping, broken-hearted father (a man after God’s own heart) said, “Absalom! O my son, my son! Would to God I had died for you! O Absalom, my son, my son.” Not exactly the cry of a negligent, uncaring father. 2 Sam. 18:33

The parable of a father and his two sons is recorded in the 15th chapter of Luke. One son is definitely a straying, wayward prodigal; the other is also revealed as an uncaring, surly, missing-the-mark son. But there is the distinct impression that this father loved his boys and longed for their well-being and had, in fact, done what he could to rear them right. But they both got off the track, at least temporarily. It is commonly understood that the father in this story typifies the long-suffering Father Himself.

We have all known (or been) families in which, at least by observation, we would assume that they (we) were training their (our) children up in the way they should go. And yet it didn’t work out that way. What are we to make of this seeming dichotomy? I don’t know what conclusions, if any, can be drawn from these real life stories: perhaps only that these things happened and continue to happen in an imperfect world full of imperfect people. Another explanation might be that when our God-given freedom of will clashes with our good training, bad choices, unfortunately, may sometimes prevail. Another slant might be that when a person has received good training, he will not forget it, even into old age, so that while there is life, there will be opportunity for repentance. The door will always be open to him because he has been taught better. If he dies in his sins, it will be a result of his immutable will, not his lack of training in the way he should go.

Though we may not understand exactly how all of this works, yet we can hold tightly to faith in the One who does understand. And do the best we can with study, prayer and Spirit guidance to do His will, and let the conclusion of the whole matter rest in His gracious hands.

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