Carlos had more blessings than he would probably ever realize. He was born in the finest hospital in the large city he would call home. The most renowned doctors attended him. He left the hospital in a late-model automobile and taken home to a prosperous neighborhood. He had a room of his own. He attended a school known for its high academic standards. His attentive mother and father loved him very much and made sure he knew it. He attended Bible School and Worship. He said his prayers every night with his loving mother in attendance to tuck him in and kiss him goodnight. In his early teens, he was immersed into Christ by his father. The future held bright promise for this loved and privileged child of a Christian home.
Toward the middle of his teens, he began to behave differently. At first this did not disturb his parents who expected a bit of rebellion. His grades began to decline and his friends looked and dressed like thugs. His disturbed parents threw all their skills into high gear as they sought to steer Carlos away from the path he seemed to have chosen but, to no avail. Experiments with drugs, sex and alcohol followed. His distraught parents tried everything they knew to do but, by the time Carlos left for the only college that would accept him, he was in full-fledged rebellion to every Christian principle his parents held dear.
“What did I do wrong?” his mother cried. His distraught father searched his heart and soul for some defect in his training. Both blamed themselves but had no clear picture of what they had done wrong. They shared their burdens with their family in Christ, but no one seemed to have any answers. One day an old friend they hadn’t seen since they were first married dropped by. Tearfully, they shared their burden as they sat late one night before the fire.. The firelight shone on their old friend’s face revealing the wrinkles and tired eyes. “Let me tell you a story,” he said
“Miguel was born to a family in one of the ghettos of a large eastern city. He was delivered by a young resident in a public hospital. After spending three days in a charity ward, he went home to a crowded low rent apartment in a battered taxi. He attended an inner-city school in cheap shoes and worn-out hand-me-downs. His mother never took him to church because she worked seven days a week so that she and her son could survive. He seldom saw his father in any other condition than drunk or strung-out on drugs.”
“Sometime toward the middle of his teen-aged years, Miguel became rebellious and incorrigible. He joined a gang and began to engage in petty theft and vandalism. His grades, formerly passable, began to decline. His distraught mother pled with him and reasoned with him, and Miguel finally began to listen. To get him out of his gang, his mother found a flat away from their old neighborhood. The youth minister at their church began to work with Miguel and others like him. Eventually, he was immersed into Christ. The change was beautiful to behold. The young man began to practice his Christianity. He became a model student. He persuaded his father to get into a twelve-step program at their church and now has been sober for seven years. I know this story well because, you see, I am Miguel’s father!”
Their old friend looked deeply into their surprised eyes and said, “You mustn’t blame yourselves, Carlos knows what is right. You’ve given him all the love and training any parent could. More importantly, you gave him Jesus Christ. The problem with Carlos is not your parenting, but his choices. My Miguel had parents who did all the wrong things. He was not a product of our parenting, but of his choices. Take courage, Carlos may yet find his way back home.”
As children of God, our Father in heaven has given us every advantage. He has lived incarnate among us, sharing the trials and temptations that nip at our heels in this life. He has revealed himself in his Word and given us a way to live. While promising the abundant life, he has made all the alternatives clear. We cannot plead ignorance. We cannot claim to be misled. Short of turning us into robots, our loving Father has given us every possible advantage. The choices are ours to make.