You’ve no doubt seen a print of Proverbs 22:6 posted in a church nursery, urging young parents to raise their little ones to walk the straight and narrow, so they’ll stick to the path even when they’re older.
But the women who chose this verse as their favorite aren’t mothers of toddlers. No, they’re mothers with grown children who’ve lost their way.
Susan admits, “I put a lot of faith in this verse, since my adult daughter and son-in-law don’t attend church anymore.” Diana is there too: “My first son is a good man, but far from the Lord.”
Sisters, you have so much company. Don’t lose heart. God is beside your loved ones, just as He is beside you. Even if you don’t have kids, God has a word waiting for you here. Keep reading—and be encouraged.
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
Start children off… Proverbs 22:6
I’m partial to the King James Version, “Train up a child.” It’s a spot-on translation of the Hebrew word, chanak, meaning to “train up, dedicate,” like putting a rope in a horse’s mouth to show who’s in charge.
Being the parent is the hardest part of parenting.
Loving your kids? Easy.
Caring for their daily needs? Intense, but manageable.
Carpooling them from A to B? Time-consuming, but also a great chance for meaningful convos.
The challenging bit comes when we must “teach” (CEV) our kids how to do life. That means learning how to “direct” (NLT) them, without pushing or pulling. And how to patiently “give instruction” (YLT), instead of just barking out orders (oops).
It is day-in and day-out difficult, but gotta-do-it necessary.
…on the way they should go,… Proverbs 22:6
This isn’t like, “Hit the road, Jack.” In Hebrew, derek means “way, road, distance, journey, manner.” We’re called to teach our kids not only the right destination, but also “the right path” (TLB), the best way to get there.
Kim has accepted the reality that “not all my grown children are currently walking His path for their lives. But I know that God is holding each of them in the palm of His hand.” Count on it, beloved. Jesus said of His followers, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
Now, check this out. “They should go” is peh in Hebrew, which literally means “mouth.” We’re back to that horse, unhappy about chomping on a rope between its teeth. Like a kid who balks at being asked to follow the house rules.
An untamed horse is beautiful to look at it, but of little use to its owner—until a horse trainer steps in. The trainer understands what’s needed, gently but firmly breaking the horse, then training it according to the animal’s natural strengths and abilities.
In the same way, we’re to train up our children “in a way that fits their needs” (ERV), always taking into account their “individual gift or bent” (AMP), looking to God to guide us, even as we guide them.
When we become parents, the word trust takes on a whole new meaning.
…and even when they are old… Proverbs 22:6
“Old” doesn’t mean elderly here. It just means no longer a child. Old enough to make decisions without any parental prompting. Old enough to be considered “grown” (CEV). Not one particular birthday, but “all their life” (GNT).
Sadly, when children reach adulthood, they often decide our guidance is no longer needed. As Marilyn shares, “My relationship with my daughter is on rocky ground, and she wants nothing to do with me. Yet I believe God is faithful. He comforts me with His Word.”
Yes, dear sister. This week’s verse from Proverbs is all about comfort and assurance.
Fear not. God has this.
…they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
That’s a promise we can hang onto with both hands. If we not only teach our children well, but also live out our lives before them in a way that consistently points to the Lord and His Word, the day will come when “they will remember it” (GNT) and “will not depart from it” (ASV). They’ll “remain” (TLB), rather than “swerve” (CJB) or “leave the right path” (ERV).
Sharon confesses, “I have a child that hasn’t spoken to me in over five years. After reading this Proverb, I realize God alone knows the path my son needs to follow.”
Yes, He does—just as He knew all about the desperately crooked path I would travel. If you’ve heard or read my faith journey, you’ll understand why I believe God can and will redeem your prodigal, in His own time and in His own way—which is always the best way.
If He can save a wretch like me, He can rescue anyone. Even if you didn’t raise them to know the Lord, He is able. Even if you messed up a hundred times, God never messes up. “The Lord knows those who are his” (2 Timothy 2:19), and He will make certain they get home.
In the meantime, keep loving them. Keep praying for them. Reach out to them, even if they don’t respond. And trust God to honor His wonderful promise: “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save” (Isaiah 59:1).
Heavenly Father, You are the only Parent who gets everything right. Help those of us with young children to train and teach them, wholly dependent on You. Give those of us with grown children the courage to wait and trust, knowing their lives are safely in Your hands. For those among us who don’t have children, let us be a witness of Your grace to everyone You bring across our path. Oh, how You love Your children, Lord!
Now it’s your turn
- How does this verse comfort or encourage you?
Bless you for clicking Post a Comment below to share your thoughts with us.
A reminder that each time you post a comment from now through December 31, 2014, you’ll be entered to win a lovely prize that features Our #1 Favorite Proverb of the year. One comment per post, just to be fair, but feel free to comment every week.
Minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve, I’ll chose 10 winners at random and give away 5 silvery necklaces and 5 colorful prints. (So fun, to play Mrs. Claus.)
Just three Wednesdays left in December—and three Proverbs left to explore. I’ve learned a ton this year. I pray you have too!
Your grateful sister, Liz
For readers who love a romantic time and place: A Wreath of Snow
For children who love a heartwarming story: The Pine Tree Parable
For friends who love being inspired: The Women of Christmas