In a recent email exchange, my brother Dave (ever the historian) shared this incident from the story of Augustine:
Monica, the mother of Augustine, poured massive amounts of time into praying for and training up her rebellious son and NEVER saw fruit of it in this life… Augustine wandered from northern Africa to the Italian peninsula as a terrible prodigal, in search of something that turned out to be Someone whom Anselm, I believe, introduced to him. All along he could not shake the influence of Monica’s words, but especially her prayers for him. As a newborn in Christ [he was converted at age 31], his life burst into flame for His Savior. It was not until he joined his mom in heaven that they were able to reunite after all of those profligate years. I try to imagine something of the conversation that followed after they bumped into one another in glory. All those years of changing stinky diapers (or whatever she used), wiping runny noses, struggling to keep grace and truth balanced in her words toward him, and seeing him live as a God-forsaking rebel seemingly throwing to the wind all she poured into him–never having any visible evidence that she would leave behind a lasting heritage for Christ. What a conversation this might have been as both stood in the presence of the One Who enabled it all!
So, Christian parent, if you are struggling and growing weary of well doing, take heart. Although it is immensely gratifying to see the fruits of our labor in training up our children in the way they should go, it could be that the petals of those buds will not even begin to unfurl (to the human eye) until after our days are spent.
Be faithful in that for which you are accountable. The life of Josiah is testimony in itself that God can cultivate godliness in the most fallow soil; but if you know to do good, do it. Love the Lord. Lean on Him. Speak the truth in love. Pray. Lay that firm foundation, with Christ as chief cornerstone, so that your children will never doubt that their feet may be firmly planted if they so choose.