Their daughter Katelyn was dating a non-Christian. How could that happen?

Before they had children, Nick and Marcy determined to be intentional about raising their children with biblical values. They made spiritual discussions part of everyday conversations. They had family devotions and prayer time. They were at church every Sunday and for every weeknight program. Both their kids trusted Jesus Christ when young. After Katelyn graduated from high school, she chose a Christian college.

But that only lasted a year. Now Katelyn was home, living in her old room, working part time and regularly hanging out with Sean, who wasn’t saved. Her parents tried to remind her how she’d been raised and what Scripture had to say. Marcy could get her to open up a little, but it wasn’t long before they’d disagree and begin arguing. Nick shifted between being hurt and being angry. There were several screaming matches and slammed doors. He contemplated a showdown, demanding she obey or get out.

Nick and Marcy were too close to the situation to find a calm solution on their own. They saw Katelyn’s choices as a reflection on their parenting.

Nick’s mom Judy was a widow. She lived in a retirement community. She didn’t get out much, but Nick and Marcy went to see her regularly. On one visit, they talked with her about Katelyn, sharing their disappointment and concerns. Judy listened and commiserated with them about the situation. This was her granddaughter. She loved Katelyn although she didn’t hear from her much anymore. At one time they were very close. Katelyn would visit Judy during the summer and spend a couple weeks, just the two of them together, cooking or working in the garden.

Now Judy listened as Nick formulated his plan to confront Katelyn. And then she offered a piece of sound advice. “Don’t give her an ultimatum,” she said. “If you force her to make a choice, she may make the very choice you’re trying to prevent. If you drive her out of your home, you’ll probably drive her to move in with Sean. She’s 20. You can’t keep her from going that route if she decides to. She knows right from wrong. You two raised her right. Love her, pray for her, provide a haven for her. Don’t drive her away.”

Nick and Marcy talked it over as they drove home. It wasn’t an easy decision for them to make. But Judy’s advice made sense.

During the following weeks, they changed their tactics. They asked Katelyn about her life, but they resisted the urge to lecture. They showed their love every chance they had. And on a couple occasions when Katelyn seemed to be leading the conversation in that direction, they calmly told her of their concerns about her choices. They issued no ultimatums.

A month or so later, Katelyn informed them that she had broken up with Sean. She said she knew it was wrong to be dating him. He had started talking about a more serious relationship and that forced her to stop and think. It was obvious that the Holy Spirit never stopped working in her life.

Judy felt disconnected from her granddaughter. But her advice, filled with grace and love, was just what the situation needed. She had saved a family from heartache and kept a young woman from making a decision that would have altered her life. Years later, when Katelyn heard the whole story from her dad, she was very thankful for her grandmother’s wisdom.

The Lord deals with us with grace and love. When we get off the right course, He is patient. He never misses an opportunity to remind us where we ought to be. And when we realize where we’re headed and turn to Him, He is always willing to welcome us back with open arms.

As we think about how the Lord has been patient with us through our rebellions and poor choices, we should use it as a model for how we respond to our children and grandchildren.

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