I had dinner recently with two dear, old friends whom I haven't seen in a long time. We talked for hours about books, travel, grandchildren ( my friends are becoming grandmas!!!) , aging parents, marriage, work, and of course our kids. All homeschoolers, we spent a lot of time together when our children were younger, participating in group activities like band, sports, co-op classes, science fairs, etc. Both of these ladies have agonized over a child who has left the nest and strayed from the values of his family, making choices that have led to conflict, pain and heartache. I have other homeschool friends who have experienced similar things with a teenager or grown child. This has sometimes led to the question, "Why did I bother? What difference did it make for me to sacrifice so much, to invest so much time and thought and effort, to care so much? If homeschooling my child, keeping him away from all the negative influences in the schools, diligently teaching him about character and values as well as academics, didn't insure that he wouldn't make terrible choices later on - then what was the purpose?!"
My response is that there are no guarantees in life. Being a homeschooler does not necessarily spare us or our children from pain, suffering, or conflict, any more than being a Christian does. So we cannot approach homeschooling with the idea that we are guaranteeing that our children won't rebel or succumb to temptation or be led astray. But we labor to build a strong foundation of grounded faith and loving family relationships to anchor our kids lives, and I don't believe those anchors let go completely, even when the ship seems to be drifting far off course! God has work to do in all of our hearts, parents and children both, and I think sometimes He gives parents situations in which to practice what we preach - forgiveness, humility, grace, courage, and trust would be a few. We are forced to run to Jesus and relinquish our dreams and desires for our children to Him, acknowledging that we do not have the power to save - only He does.
I have not faced the kind of heartache that some of my friends have with their children, but I do know what it is like to watch my children wrestle with worldly desires, struggle with their faith, and test the waters in areas I would rather they avoid completely. It is so hard as a parent of grown and nearly grown children to let them find their own way, yet still offer gentle guidance ( but not nagging! ) as an older and wiser sister-in-Christ!
What difference does it make?
A spiritual battle rages with growing fury for the hearts and minds of this next generation, and we Christians must be on our knees in prayer and also actively discipling our children (learning about and living like Christ together! ) EVERY DAY! We do this out of LOVE and also obedience to the Savior who loves us! We are warriors in a cosmic battle, and even if our children make choices that we think are wrong, they will know that they have a mother who loves them and is fighting for their soul. And that does make a difference.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.