Don’t Come Home

If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know that I have done a series on The Empty Nest, Part 2, Part 3—-words of encouragement, help and preparation for when your children leave home to launch out on their own.

Today, I’m sharing the testimony from a son whose parents are an example of handling the empty nest.

“Eighteen years ago, we moved [north]. I’ll never forget the firm words my dad had for me. It seemed out of his gentle character as he nearly made me promise to do what he requested. ‘Son, one of these days your mother and I will get old and sick. Don’t come home! The Lord has a work for you to do in [up north], and we don’t want to get in the way’.”

“My family has been so supportive for all these many years. Dad got cancer, had other health struggles then passed away. Mom has had health ups and downs over the years. She is currently at home having been recently released from the hospital due to many health issues.”

Denise and I met this son and his wife three years ago. They ministered to our hearts in a very special way and have continued to do so. Their love and sacrifice for the gospel, the ministry of Jesus Christ and his parents are quite evident. Even though they moved miles away from parents, what a blessing to serve the Lord knowing that family was “in their corner” praying and cheering them on!

Parents, don’t hold your kids so tight that they feel guilty serving where God has called them if they can’t get home as often as you think. If you are all born again believers, you will spend forever with them. Let them go! Trust the Lord for their well-being. God is always a better parent, refuge, and source of wisdom than we can be.

Release them, love them, remind them often of your support, and most of all, pray fervently for them!!

This son is currently visiting with his mom, and he wrote, “Even though Daddy said not to move back home, I’m pretty sure he’d be ok with a visit.”

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Empty Nest – Part 3

In the previous two posts, I have suggested that you can prepare for the empty nest by making daily investments in your marriage, by making your home a joyful place and by preparing your children to leave home.

Today, I submit to you that the greatest step in preparing for the empty nest is to release your children into the hands of God!

Truth is, we do not own our children. They were created by God and belong to Him. Parenting is His work, not ours. Grace to raise our children and send them out only comes from the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10). Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward (Psalm 127:3). For you (God) formed my inward parts; you (God) knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14a).

Since this is true, He knows what is best for our children. Therefore, as they go from the “crib to college” or the “Johnny-Jump-Up to a job,” your goal is to . . .

  • Teach the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), live out the gospel, and teach your children how to live out the gospel. Our prayer was always, “Lord, may (name) come to know you as personal Lord and Savior at the earliest possible moment/age.” (10 Ideas For Living Out the Gospel In Your Home)
  • Make Christ preeminent in your home as you live out the Christ-life (Romans 6-8; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 1:15-18).
  • Live with your sights set on the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) and eternity (John 14:1-3) not the world’s values.
  • Teach your children to love God’s Word, to know God’s Word, to speak God’s Word and to apply God’s Word (Psalm 119). A great way to do that is through the Inductive Bible Study.
  • Teach them to follow Christ all the days of their life (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 14:26; Philippians 1:21; 1 Peter 2:21)
  • Give your children the best gift . . . parents who Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 4). If our children have left home and are following Christ, give Him praise, for it is all of His grace. Enjoy your empty nest and fill it with much love and prayer together.

If your child has left home and is not walking with the Lord, certainly that will be a burden to your heart, but our sovereign God can do greater things than we can imagine. Make your empty nest a place of prayer and submission to the omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence of God. Lean hard into His promises. Perhaps this will encourage you: Comfort For Weary Parents of Troubled Children

May you all find comfort and encouragement in the Truth as you face or live in the empty nest of parenting. Wherever you are and wherever your children are, God is there. Rest and rejoice in Him (Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:6-8). Husbands, enjoy the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18). Release your children to God.

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Empty Nest – Part 2

One of the most critical times in a marriage is when the only child or children begin to leave home, especially when “the baby” departs. My wife and I have experienced this, but can say with confidence, “You can look forward to the empty nest!”

Yesterday I began what I hope is a helpful set of posts on this subject of preparing for The Empty Nest. Here’s another step as you move toward that day.

Prepare your children to leave home. Denise and I had a dear lady in our church watch our second daughter for a couple of hours one month after she was born so we could continue our habit of dating. Certainly, Alli did not know about us being gone, but it set the stage for when she did understand, and it was an ongoing example to her older sister. You see, Denise and I were preparing our own hearts for when the girls would leave home. How?

  • Send your children to junior and teen camp. We highly recommend The Wilds.
  • Get your children involved in sports, 4-H, Sunday School, youth group and its activities, college trips, ministry within your local church, etc.
  • Teach them how to work and to have a godly work ethic. Let them get a job as soon as possible, but refuse to let them accept a job that will keep them out of church.
  • Train them how to clean up their room, do laundry, set the table, cook, wash dishes, vacuum, drive a car, mow the lawn, plant a garden, build a fire in the outdoor firepit, be financially responsible, how to dress for the occasion, how to treat and respect the opposite sex, etc. In other words, do not let your children grow up dependent on you.
  • Do not give your children everything. Let them learn the value of waiting on certain privileges as well as the value of earning certain privileges.
  • Allow your children to make mistakes within reason. They need to learn how to rise from failure and how to lose with a gracious heart yet be competitive.
  • Teach them to respect, honor and obey authority.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing one of the most important steps in this preparation process. Stay tuned!

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Empty Nest

One of the most difficult times of parenting comes when your children are ready to leave “the nest.”

I distinctly remember when we left our firstborn at college. The drive out of town was absolute silence for at least 30 minutes with some sniffles, tears and the need for Kleenexes.

When our second child, our last one here on earth, left home for college, this too did a major tug on our hearts.

Nevertheless, this is the way God planned. Genesis 2:24, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Our children cannot “leave and cleave” if we as parents are still cleaving to them.

How can you be prepared to release your children and eventually enjoy the “empty nest”?

Make daily investments in your marriage. Remember parents, you did not marry your children. Your spouse came first and hopefully your spouse will still be there after the kids depart! Therefore, portray before your children a transparent, honest, grace-filled, forgiving marriage that will be a model for them to follow (Ephesians 4:17-5:33). Continue to date your spouse. Be lovingly demonstrative toward your spouse in the presence of your children. You want your children to grow up with the undoubtable knowledge that their parents love each other! Moms and dads, when your marriage is strong, your children will find an element of security in their own lives because they know their parents will be okay.

Make your home a joyful place. Parents, enjoy the Lord, enjoy life, enjoy your children, and enjoy each day. Even in the midst of sorrow, difficult parenting days, Covid, financial strain, the Spirit of God produces joy (Galatians 5:22-23) and gives us hope (Romans 15:13). Here are three ingredients for a joyful home that come with the grace needed for daily fulfillment—Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12). Recently I heard someone say, “Our home should be such that our children are prepared to leave but look forward to returning, not for what they get or to be a shelter enabling their laziness, but for the atmosphere that is set in the early years of child rearing.”

Yes, when the time comes for your children to move on in life, it will bring a dramatic change for you and your children. No matter, the grace of God and preparation today looking toward tomorrow and the future will enable this transition to be God-honoring and a blessing to your children. Remember, you left home and your parents, too, right?

More tomorrow.

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

Friday’s Findings

Today’s links are all family oriented.  I believe they will stir your heart, challenge your thinking, and lead to biblical change.

10 Questions for Moms in the New Year – This blog post is written by the sister of Sarah Arnold (Philippians) whom our church family knows and loves so much.

5 Reasons We Eat Together as a Family – I would not trade the memories of our years gathered around the old oak table learning, laughing, lifting, and loving!  Now that my wife and I are empty-nesters, we still continue to habit of eating supper at the old oak table, often in front of the fireplace.

Letting Your Child Go – Many children have a hard time obeying God’s command to leave and cleave (Genesis 2:24) because parents are still cleaving to their children.  Here’s very practical advice to help parents prepare their children to leave home and be what God has planned for their lives.