As parents, we know a little about this kind of struggle as our children grow up. Throughout the morning time of a child’s young years, the noontime of his years as he approaches his teens, and the afternoon time of the teen years, we wait. What happens? Perhaps it seems as if God is never going to work in our children. We train them in Christian education, they hear sermons every Sunday, and we are faithful in family worship, but the child is not converted. What’s the use? Instead of God coming, what comes? Vultures.
That’s what came for Abram. In verse 11, we read, “And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away.” Doesn’t it seem that child-rearing is a lot like that — driving away vultures from our children’s lives? There are so many vultures out there, so many people, so many things, and so many enemies that want to get at our children and destroy them.
Abram’s trial of faith is often the trial of God-fearing parents. We plead God’s promises and look for His benediction, but all we see are vultures. So many birds of prey come down to feed on our children. So much wages war against God’s covenant and His promises. Think of our children. They are covenant children, but so much is against them. Their own hearts, the world, Satan, and sometimes even their own friends or our own poor examples as parents are like birds of prey swooping down on them to devour them.
The vultures come and pick away at our children’s inward spiritual lives and their outward obedience. All of society is screaming to them: “Do your own thing. Go your own way. Stand up for yourself. Be cool. Look out for number one.” Everything they hear in the world is basically contrary to the Bible. How do we handle it when all we see are vultures and it doesn’t seem as if God will ever come — when nothing divine seems to be happening in their hearts and lives? If anything, as they enter adolescence, they seem to be losing ground, becoming more hardened, more rebellious, more conformed to this world.
We must stand our ground, as Abram did, holding fast to the word of promise, obeying the word of command, looking to the God of the covenant.
Joel R. Beeke, Parenting by God’s Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace, pages 6-7.