HAPPY CHRISTMAS MORNING!! If you are having half as much fun as we are, you don’t have time to read this! If your house is one tenth as messy as mine is, you have a lot to do. But don’t do it. Just walk on the torn paper for a while. Walk around the strewn presents. Don’t take the tree down for at least three more days. Drink hot cocoa and eat warm cinnamon rolls. Don’t count calories or weight watcher points today. Take an afternoon nap and then get up and play games. Savor the day with your family. Your time together will be over all too quickly.
I hope you caught the twinkle in your kids’ eyes when they opened their presents. Mine are both in their twenties, but surprises still bring the desired reaction. The giving is still as much fun (well, almost) as when they were toddlers. When I think about giving them gifts, though, I know that it’s not the ones under the tree that are ultimately important. In the last post, I wrote about one of the most enduring gifts you can give them. It’s a tool box with just a some very practical warranted tools to help them one day build a great marriage and a happy home to His glory. If you can help them, early on, to make wise choices when they choose spouses, you have given them something money can’t buy. Here are just two of those tools:
1. When your child is old enough to talk at all, begin making this statement to him/her: “When I marry, I’m going to marry a ________________.” Do this daily with even your two-year old. Elicit the response “Christian”.
As your child matures, accompany the statement with an elicited definition of what a true Christian is. A Christian, by definition is a follower of Christ. This means more than being a member of some church. This means patterning his/her life after Christ in all practical areas.
2. Then, well before your child begins to date, come up with a list of characteristics or qualifications for which to search in finding this Christian. When we did this at our house we made little wallet sized cards, laminated them and called them our “dating check cards”. They look like this:
Remember, it’s too late to say or do any of these things once your son or daughter has fallen in love and decided whom to marry. While you should still do all you can to help your child avoid marrying someone who will endanger his/her eternal salvation, the time to begin is well in advance of the teen years. If your child can walk and talk (even a little), get busy!
I am quite convinced that rarely does any young person contemplating marriage really realize the seriousness of this decision. Future successes or failures, the plights of generations to come and the destinies of souls can all be swayed by the choices we make about marriage. I was 20 years old when I married. I had dated Glenn for a year and a half when we made our vows. We were both faithful Christians having been raised in Christian homes. Glenn was already preaching the gospel on a regular basis. We were serious about spiritual things. Yet I am now convinced that I could not, at that vulnerable point in my young life, have fully comprehended the vast implications of the marriage decision. I think it’s especially hard in modern America, a society in which the media puts so much emphasis on outward beauty and material success, for young people to focus on the eternal import of choosing the right mate. A recent TV viewing season had all of America, it seems, engrossed in a couple of reality television dramas in which groups of people were paid large sums of money to participate in marriage competitions; contests in which some “lucky” contestant would marry the supposed millionaire. As a culture we are sending the wrong message to our children about the marriage vows. We are cheapening the sacred and desecrating the holy union of marriage when we convey that the one who gets the glamour guy with the most money is the winner. Marriage is a God ordained institution and should never be relegated to being the grand prize at the end of a game show.
In Judges 14, we get a look at a young man who became very determined to marry the wrong girl. Samson’s mother and father were devastated by his choice. After all, he was promised by an angel, set apart with a Nazarite vow for the purposes of God, and moved by the Holy Spirit of God. This incredible young man had found his wife-to-be among the uncircumcised Philistines.
And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.
Are there things we, as parents, can do early on to help our children make wise choices when it comes to dating and marriage? Look for the next post for free ideas that just might help…and certainly can’t hurt.
(much of this post is from Women of Troubled Times, by Cindy Colley. Publishing Designs, Huntsville, AL)