Know Your Bible

VOL. 8                           October 4, 2009                           NO. 37

Regrets Of A Lost Childhood

[The following story is a fictional representation of a man who has reached a mature age in life and is reflecting upon how his parents failed to impress upon him a love for the Lord and his own efforts with his family.]

    Reaching the age of fifty-five has brought about reflection on life and the impact of decisions I have made in company with decisions made by my parents when I was a child. My children have grown and left home and my wife and I are enjoying a different time in life; one of pause and introspection. It has also become a time of spiritual awakening that I have looked deeper into my relationship with God and my early awareness of the church.

    My parents became Christians a few years before I was born. They went to worship services most Sunday mornings and occasionally mom would take us on a Wednesday night with Bible class. While mom and dad were Christians we never made the church a large part of our life. We enjoyed the people there and liked the preacher but mom and dad never made a large part of their life the things that involved the church.

    Bible class was nice but as we grew older the less time we would go to Bible class. The elders would encourage everyone to be a part of the Bible class time. Mom and dad never really found it that interesting. As I look back on my childhood I wonder what kind of person I could have been in my life if I would have had the influence of godly teachers who loved the Lord and sought to share the Bible stories with their students. I have struggled with many challenges in my life and tried to answer each one with my own wisdom. The children who went to Bible class learned about how God's people struggled and how they overcame. I regret not having that kind of background to help me.

    Mom and dad are passed now. I would wish to ask them why they seldom took us to Bible class. I understand that everything we need to know about the Bible cannot come from the few hours we spend together in the Bible class but I would really have enjoyed spending time as a child learning about the word of God. Seeing the  beginning of all things through the eyes of Moses in the book of Genesis would have helped me know who I am, why I am here and where I am going. The struggles of the people of God in Israel, would have given me courage to overcome the temptations in school.

    I remember on a rare Sunday morning we went to Bible class and the elders had divided the classes up to teach the young men and the young women important lessons for youth. What they were studying was what I was having a hard time with in life but we did not go back to Bible class and I missed out. Maybe my sister would have had an easier life if she would have been in Bible class and learned about purity, faith and love. I know that I would have learned more about being a man and not made as many mistakes in life.

    As we grew older we never went to Bible class and mom and dad would begin to go less and less to worship services. We drifted away from the church services and when I graduated high school I seldom darkened the doors of the Lord’s church. College came along and I enjoyed all the pleasures of the world found in college. Church was never on my agenda. Mom and dad never really had time and neither did I.

    I married a college sweetheart and we were blessed with three children. My wife and I gave no thought to worship and as our children grew they never knew what Bible class or worship was all about. We struggled in our lives with the problems that face all couples and tried to solve them with Dr. Phil and Oprah and this counselor and that counselor and to little avail. Our children are doing well in the world but have no interest in spiritual things.

    It was the heart attack last year that brought my life back to those early days. Life took on a deeper meaning and my mind turned to the sanctity of life and its meaning. Strangely those childhood memories of Bible stories and songs began to haunt my memory. I soon regretted not having the influence of those Bible memories that so many others had shared. Why had mom and dad not seen the value in spending time with people of God and to help me learn about the stories of “Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 11:32-33).

    We were always too busy to attend on a Wednesday night and never went to a gospel meeting. There were a lot of things the elders tried to encourage us to be a part of but it just did not interest mom and dad. Interest - that is the word that escapes me. It means “a sense of concern with and curiosity about.” Truth of it is mom and dad did not have a sense of concern for the Lord and His teachings. We saw that in their lives and so we had no interest in the Lord either. How often I have looked back on life and seen where an interest in the Lord would have helped me.

    Is that why my children have no interest in the Bible today? Is that why I find my life empty because of the lack of knowledge about the One who made me? I cannot blame my parents for all of my decisions but I can lay at their feet the charge they failed me when I was a child. They had so many opportunities to take me to Bible class and worship and be involved in what the church was doing but they were not interested. How different my life would be today if they had.

    Sadly this carried over into my marriage and my own children. How do I begin to turn the heart of my wife to a book I turned my back on? What can I say to my own children who grew up with less interest in the Bible than I was exposed too growing up? In so many ways I am the product of how my parents viewed the efforts of the church in teaching and preaching the gospel. Their lack of interest instilled in me a lack of interest.

    Is it possible to say that if my parents would have taken me to Bible class and worship and been involved in the work of the church my life would have turned out perfect. No, I know many who are faithful to the cause of Christ and have tried their best to work diligently in the work of the church and yet faced troubles. But they seem to have a greater understanding and greater faith about overcoming those challenges. I wish I had that. I regret not having that foundation in my childhood. It would have made a difference in my life if my parents had seen the importance of the cause of Christ. I regret my lost childhood in not knowing the Lord.

    My birthday is tomorrow. Another candle will be added to the already burdened cake. All of the children will be home for dads special day. We will sing happy songs, laugh and I will enjoy opening the special gifts from my children and grandchildren. The cake will be cut and the punch will flow and a good time will be enjoyed by all. In a quiet corner I will sit and look upon my family with a smile and a tear will streak across my face for the memories of a few rare times in childhood when I remember those precious times in church. I will regret the loss of those important lessons in life. I will regret the loss of those important lessons being given to my own children.

    Time slips quietly by in life and we think we will live forever. The tide rolls in and we awaken to the dawn of tomorrow where yesterday can never be regained. Hard lessons of life are learned in lost childhoods. Parents are busy about many things and spend the childhood days filled with today and now and the need and the present and urgent and the must have and the rapid pace of life rushes by and then we wake up - and life is gone.

    If I had a voice to share with you as a parent I would implore you to see the worth of your child's life and the need to spend time now with the people of God and with the study of the word of God. The wise man said to “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, 'I have no pleasure in them'” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Your children need to know about the Creator now. There are difficult days coming and they need to be prepared. You must show them the way and if you fail to show them the way they will be lost in the entanglements of life. The interest your children have in Jesus Christ will largely be determined by YOUR interest in Jesus Christ.

    There is no better time than now. My childhood days are gone and the days for my own children are passed. But you still have time to share the wonderful news of the Bible with your children. Be involved with the efforts of the church and take an interest in the things the elders are trying to help you with. Bring your children to Bible class. Bring your children to every worship service. Bring your family to the Lord and you will reap wonderful blessings. “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap....He who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:7-9).

    You can make a difference in the life of your child beginning today. Make a commitment to put the Lord in your life in a positive way by the example you show of fidelity to the church. This will not guarantee that challenges will not be a part of your life but you will be prepared to face those challenges and so will your children. If you love your children you will love them enough to give them the greatest gift of all - God. He loves you and desires to teach your children of His love. He proved that by His own Son. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

    Do not live to regret the childhood lost in your own children. Take every opportunity to give them something that will never die. Give them the knowledge of eternal life. Let them see the beauty of God’s grace and the love of His rich mercy. Begin today with a commitment that you will make every effort to let your children see God in you. Show them your love for God by involving your family in the work of the church. Will you save their childhood?

---Kent Heaton

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