If there were a support group for moms like me, I would be at every meeting making that same statement. I would weep with others as I have wept alone, and I would share the bits and pieces of hope that break into the darkness even as I would listen to their own glimpses of hoped for better. I know the intimate ache of a son who does not find delight in the Lord.
Unfortunately I have not found such a support group. Instead I have discovered that if or when I talk about my son's rejection of the Lord, it usually makes other people uncomfortable. Hard news does not find a place at the table of announcing accomplishments, awards, and achievements. In a community where pride in our sons and daughters is its own virtue, a difficult statement is a frowned upon indiscretion.
No Christian mom or dad wants to believe such a thing. How could it possibly be true? Haven't our kids been raised in the church? They are at youth group every Sunday night. They attend discipleship groups and serve on far and near mission trips. They not only know the answers to the Shorter Catechism, but they can speak the questions with you as well. And, if quizzed, they can even take you step by step in how to be saved.
Yes, he can for the most part. But he has also said quite clearly that he wants nothing to do with the Lord because he does not believe. He has said, even respectfully, that he only attends church and its functions because he knows it is a "rule" of the house. He admits that once this "God-thing" sounded all right, but now he states that it is just not for him. His life and practice do not demonstrate repentance.
You try telling someone those things in person and see if the main reaction isn't a tight lipped grimace accompanied by a sad shake of the head. All the while avoiding eye contact with you as they think how to change the conversation quickly. Ah, but first throw out a Bible verse that will solve it...."Well you know, God says, 'Train up a child in the way he will go and when he is old he will not depart from it.'"
Leaving me once again to consider if his rejection is my fault. Is my own struggle with sin lived out before him so devoid of victory that all he sees is hypocrisy and weakness? Has my own painful sanctification caused him to think it is hopeless to overcome sin? Has my lack of mercy and grace with others, including him, caused him to doubt the mercy and grace of God? Yes, yes, and yes. I am certain that on more than one point my lack, my debt, my trespass, my sin has been of negative value in his life.
However, I am equally sure he has seen and witnessed my confession and repentance when I have sinned against him and others. He has heard my humility and thanksgiving for forgiveness of sin. He has even known and albeit grudgingly admitted receiving mercy and grace personally at my hand. Still he confesses rejection of faith.
We have had all, ALL, the theological discussions on faith, sin, salvation, repentance, forgiveness, and grace. We have gone through the -tion words: justification, redemption, sanctification, propitiation, and glorification. We have answered to the best of our ability hard questions of "Why did God let sin into the garden? Why did Jesus have to die? Why does God allow bad things to happen? Why doesn't God answer all my prayers? How do we know that we are right and the Buddhists are wrong?" My den could be renamed the Areopagus for the number of apologetics sessions the walls have heard. Still he confesses rejection of the Lord.
I know how one is saved--by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit who brings the spiritually dead to spiritual life, giving them faith to respond with belief. I confess the sovereignty of God in election. I believe in the promise of the covenant that these things are for you and your children. Yet I have a child, a child of the covenant, a baptized child of the covenant, who lives as a covenant breaker.
What then have I learned in these four plus years of soul's travail?
1) The Holy Spirit is the One who convicts of sin and gives spiritual life
2) God is sovereign in salvation
3) Each one is responsible and accountable for his or her response to God
4) I cannot save my son AND I am responsible in word and life to witness to him the gospel of Jesus Christ as I have opportunity and breath in my body
5) Knowing he is saved by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone will be a joy beyond measure, BUT I cannot make his salvation my idol
Perhaps he will one day believe what he sang as a little boy, "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know." Perhaps the Lord will in His mercy grant him the repentance that leads to faith. Perhaps the lived memory of Bible verses and church sermons and youth group talks and our den apologetics will one day be a part of a glorious awakening of his spirit. Perhaps one day.
But until that day, it is hard and it is grievous and there is no easy answer. Do not be a part of a community that pretends or ignores or pithily dismisses the ache of moms like me who just like you love their children and pray fervently for their entrance into the kingdom.
There will be more to say.