This series of blog posts is taken from a chapter I wrote for the book, To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession, Canon Press, © 2005.
Salvation is always by grace—we are saved in spite of who and what we are. Success in child-rearing is therefore not cause for pride but rather humility. We cannot save ourselves by our works and neither can we save our children by our works. As long as there is breath, it is never too late for grace to conquer even in the worst of situations. As long as there is life, it is never too late for the prodigal to come home.
Often, these trials with our children turn out to be bad chapters in otherwise good books. God's severe mercy proves His love for us: "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives" (Heb. 12:5-6). Just as our parental failings were instrumental in our children's unbelief, so God can and will use our humble and faithful reclamation efforts to regain our children. Let us renew our efforts, pick up the pieces, and seek the Lord. "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Heb. 12:11).