We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10, NASB)
Some years back I directed the compilation of a new hymnal, Sing to the Lord. I was amazed at how strongly and emotionally people feel about their own musical tastes. Some truly important issues can be greeted with deafening indifference, but not music.
This is especially true with teenagers. From my years with three in our house, I can affirm what you already know: they have their own ideas about music. Yes, we can expose them to various styles and set limits on their listening. But their musical tastes are part of their independence as persons. Their music is THEIRS, and they are absolutely fierce in clinging to it. Hands off!
But it was fascinating to watch our eldest son, Jason. In earlier years he would only listen to the loudest, most aggressive contemporary music. He scorned anything else. But by his later years in high school, his musical tastes had mellowed and matured. By the time he left the house, his music was still contemporary, but it also had echos of folk and traditional elements. It was less abrasive and more subtle and creative. My wife and I grew to enjoy much of it.
How did these changes happen? As a gradual process, I imagine. As he grew and changed and was exposed to more music, old styles wore thin and lost their appeal. His friends certainly played a major part. They shared their sounds, and their enthusiasm. Over time, he acquired a taste for those sounds and embraced them as his own.
These musical changes have brought me hope that other changes will continue to happen with my children – internal changes. My greatest hope and prayer is that their relationships with Christ will continue to grow ever deeper and more pervasive throughout every aspect of their lives.
How might this happen? Time, maturity, and the Christian influence of friends will probably play a part. I’m also sure our influence will be strong in their lives. Though children tend to turn off much of what their parents say, they watch. They absorb. When I was young and uncertain about what to expect from the future, I watched my elders closely and learned all I could from their lives. Our children have done the same and will continue to do so. How vital it is, then, that we live daily as in God’s presence:
Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…Walk in love…You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light. (Ephesians 4:1; 5:2, 8, NASB)
But I am also encouraged as I remember that the same God who has been at work in me all these years is also at work in them. His Holy Spirit operates patiently but so powerfully. He is not some weak and wispy “spirit” with limited ability to touch and move and make changes. He is as strong and zealous and ardently loving as our Omnipotent Father Creator. And He works effectively where it matters most: in the hearts and minds of individuals.
As I turn to God and pray for my children daily, I do so with the confidence that day by day, circumstance by circumstance, God is lovingly and faithfully pursuing their deepest affections.