John’s Grimshaw’s father William, was a pastor and evangelist in the mid eighteenth century and traveled extensively. His wife had died when their children were little and he had to leave his son, John and his sister Sarah, to live most of their days with their grandparents. When he was ten John experienced the loss of his stepmother and then at 13, his beloved sister Sarah died while they were away at boarding school. These events sent him into a downward spiral of despair. His father brought him home from school to minister to him and have him apprenticed, but John was a rebel. He drank his cares away, fathered a child out of wedlock and strayed away from the foundational truths taught to him when he was a child. When John was 27, his father died but he was able to speak with John about eternity while on his death bed. Four years later, John became deathly ill but right before he died he professed his faith in Jesus Christ. He said “What will my father say when he sees me in heaven?”
This story brought Proverbs 22:6 to mind, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is OLD he shall not depart from it.” This verse has a promise, not that we will always see the fruit of our labor in our lifetime, but that when our children are old they will not depart from it. John’s father prayed for him constantly and was faithful in imparting the truth to him. When his dad died he must have been so heart broken over the loss of his son spiritually. He hadn’t considered what his son might do when he was older.
What a great sadness it is for those parents who pray for their children daily, model a Christian walk, instruct them spiritually and wait with great anticipation for that child to commit their life to Christ, only to see them turn the other way. The promise in Proverbs is real and we must hold onto it and trust God’s timing in our children’s life. J.C. Ryll, an Anglican bishop in the mid nineteenth century says in his book, The Duties of Parents, “You may not see with your own eyes the result of careful training, but you know not what blessed fruits may spring from it, long after you are dead and gone.” He also speaks of the “Afterward”, and references Hebrews 12:11 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=hebrews+12%3A11&version=NLT and Matthew 21:29 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+21%3A29&version=ESV. Ryll says, “and ‘afterward’ is the time to which parents must look forward if they see not success at once, you must sow in hope and plant in hope.”
Do you struggle with a child who has turned away from or never turned to Christ? Do you feel that you have “failed” in this effort? Take heart, it is our duty as intentional Christian parents to instill God’s Word into our children and it is His duty to see that what we sow and plant in our children’s heart produces fruit, even when they are OLD.