I was born in a house in a town just like your own.
I was raised to believe in the power of the Unknown.
When Alex took a college class last fall called Family Dynamics, none of us had any idea that it would impact our family. But it did. Late one night, Brett and I, as well as her two brothers who were also away at school, got an email as part of her homework, in which she had to identify a family weakness that could be addressed. It was the good kind of confrontation that simply confirmed what we all knew to be true about us. True...and bad.
When the answers and the Truth take different sides,
Will you still find me, will you still lead me through smoke?
That launched a series of family discussions in which God, in His grace, revealed to us a toxic part of our family culture that was having negative impact on our family. It was painful to walk through, and we had to have hard discussions with our kids, in which we reviewed the past, confessed sin, and asked forgiveness. But the pain was worth the peace that followed.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. (John 14:27)
We know that the world preaches a peace that does not ruffle feathers, does not stir the pot, does not make anyone feel badly about their beliefs. The peace the world teaches is tolerance and coexistence. And, in the end, this peace leads to eternal destruction.
But the peace of God is far more radical than that. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34). The peace of God is aggressive. It is subversive to the world's agenda. It's an underground resistance movement.
Peacekeepers avoid the problem, not wanting to make waves. Live and let live. It's the kind of peace the world preaches.
Peacemakers head towards the problem, not bothered about making waves. It's the kind of peace Jesus preaches.
Peacekeepers keep their mouths shut, go quietly, and avoid conflict.
Peacemakers take ground for the cause of Christ.
We are not called to be peacekeepers; we are called to be peacemakers.
That goes for all of us who name the name of Jesus. But, specifically here, I'm thinking parents. I've been heavy-hearted by all the stuff going on over at Homeschoolers Anonymous. These wounded rebels were raised by neither peacekeepers nor peacemakers. They were raised by warmongers...strong-willed parents who took a my-way-or-the-highway approach to parenting. And what we see over at HA is the bombed out, barren, gospel-deprived wasteland of a pointless war. They weren't parenting to the glory of God; they were parenting to the glory of Dad and Mom.
As my three oldest children approached adulthood, I began to see a trend.
They all had to grapple with how they were raised...
because even the best-intentioned parent can help them see through the glass only dimly.
It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to bring the kind of clarity that helps them own their own pursuit of Truth.
It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to help them see through the gaps we leave or the mistakes we make or the sins we commit when we are raising our children.
It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to lead them through smoke.
They might arrive at adulthood having to navigate smoke as a result of our warmongering...
or they might arrive at adulthood having to navigate smoke as a result of our well-intentioned humanity.
But either way, there's still smoke.
Smoke is a fact of life.
Regarding the smoke on the road ahead of them, the Holy Spirit will take them the rest of the way.
But regarding the smoke of their past, we have a responsibility to lead them through. If we know we've left smoke in the wake of our parenting, we must--we must--become peacemakers with our children.
Who do you believe when you can't get through,
When everything you believe seems so untrue,
When I'm lost in a place that I thought I knew,
Give me some way that I might find You--through smoke.*
Give me some way that I might find You...
When it comes to our kids, that's the first job of our peacemaking: clearing any smoke that we left as a result of our own sin so they can see the Lord more clearly.
When we screw up, we can't deflect with a 'well, we did the best we could' shrug of the shoulders. Ouch. That might look like humility. But it's really an 'I'm not apologizing' arrogance. And you can be sure you'll hear their heart slam shut as a result.
It's a horrible, sick-to-your-stomach feeling to find you've done your children wrong, but peacemaking heads towards the problem, repents, and sees the result called Reconciliation.
The other part of peacemaking is going after their sin.
That's risky because it can so easily provoke defensiveness in the confronted party.
I admit it; I really dislike this part of peacemaking, and nothing makes me want to hide behind peacekeeping like the prospect of some kind of scene. I don't like emotion; I don't like tears; I don't like drama; I don't like my kids being mad at me. I admit I'd much rather avoid all of that and go quietly.
But choosing to be peacekeepers with our kids' sin is the same thing as choosing their destruction.
peacemaking, in order to not be warmongering, has to be rooted in grace. The goal of peacemaking has to be the glory of God. Just look at the beatitudes. If I don't start by being poor in spirit, (that is, recognizing that I am spiritually impoverished and have nothing to offer God to make me right with Him, that any right standing I have with God is all a result of God's grace), if I don't grasp that, I will never succeed at peacemaking.
No one over at Homeschoolers Anonymous is beyond the grace of God:
not the rebel kids,
not the legalistic parents,
not the absentee elders.
But I'd rather not have to take the HA path to grace. And I'd rather not have my kids have to take the HA path to grace.
I'd rather be a peacemaker now.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
*Through Smoke, Bear Rinehart and Bo Rinehart, 2009.