I continue to be provoked by a discussion about parenting in light of eternity. The affect it has had on me as a parent has been to clarify the things of parenting. I will (and do!) still struggle in making mountains out of molehills and vice versa, but I definitely believe that the picture of my destination as a parent is clearer – under the specter of eternal judgment, all things are clearer. Interestingly, Paul wrote this way in his letter to the Thessalonians (1:9, 2:16, 3:13, 4:13-17, chapter 5).
Just the other day, I found out that one of my children had been participating in mean-spiritedness against another child from our church: covenant children victimizing others, who’d have thought? Nonetheless, once I found out I was surprised by how much more quickly we moved to handle this (Judgment day still fresh in our minds). I whipped out the church directory, found the relevant phone number, made the call, connected with the parent and passed the phone along to my child who asked for forgiveness from the other. The mom told me that my child had acted courageously. I responded, “It takes courage to do the right thing.” I might’ve said it differently, “It takes a Judgment-Day perspective to do the right thing.”
In a resource designed to help parents bring the gospel to their covenant children, I read a quote from Richard Mather, English-born American congregationalist preacher (c. 1600) in answer to the question, “What might covenant children on their way to hell say to their parents?”
All this that we here suffer is through you. You should have taught us the things of God and did not. You should have restrained us from sin and corrected us and you did not. You were the means of our original corruption and guiltiness, and yet you never showed any competent care that we might be delivered from it. Woe unto us that we had such carnal and careless parents. And woe unto you that you had no more compassion and pity to prevent the everlasting misery of your own children.
I have said in class before that even among those of you who do not have children, your commitment to your covenantal vows at the many baptisms you witnessed in our worship obligate you to help parents with children in their tasks of parenting for Judgment Day. I pray that in and through our faithful covenant parenting (you with us and we with you) in light of eternity, our children will have no opportunity to speak words like these. May God grant us the grace and strength.