Rafting the rapidsWhen my sons were about fourteen, our scout troop decided to take a whitewater rafting trip down the infamous North Fork of the American River. We had never experienced this type of adventure and were looking forward to the outing with great delight. Our troop arrived at the water’s edge on a beautiful spring day. The unusually heavy rain and snowfall of the previous winter had really swollen the river.

We slipped our raft into the placid current and slowly drifted downstream. The guide provided instructions and discussed how we might handle various situations. We cheerfully paddled along, enjoying fellowship, and maneuvering through the first several easy rapids. It was about mid-day when we started tackling the class-five rapids with notorious names like “Satan’s Cesspool,” “Triple Threat,” and “Flower’s Rock.” Despite our great plans and advanced study, once we were in the fray, it was “every man for himself.” At times we couldn’t even paddle. We just had to hang on!

Similarly, the currents of early childhood years are often relatively calm and enjoyable. Plans are made, books are read, and parenting doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a big problem. Then, we are thrown into the turbulent teen years. Sometimes it feels like all we can do is hang on. It can be quite scary and discouraging.

It helps to remember that we aren’t alone in this parenting job. There are those who have gone before us who can encourage and counsel us. Always there are other parents facing similar challenges. Family, church, and friends can be a great support network. Most importantly we must remember that God is in control.

I have a real passion to encourage others in this area. As I survey Scripture and evaluate strong families in today’s culture, I have discovered five important ingredients:

  • Appreciation and Encouragement: Encourage one another.
  • Communication: Talk about your day, life, and God.
  • Time: Share life together; that’s how disciples are made.
  • Commitment: Be devoted to one another and love unconditionally.
  • Spiritual Wellness: Families that have a sense of a greater good or power in life find purpose and have a moral compass.

Above all else, Jesus Christ is the one who “keeps us in the boat” when things get rough. Let’s keep Him in the center of everything we do. Let’s let Him be our guide. And no matter how rough it gets, let’s all hang on!

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4–7

Personal Application

Many men find it difficult to talk to their children about the Lord. But it’s important to be transparent with them about your walk with Jesus. Tell your children your story—how you came to Christ and what He has done and is doing in your life.

Jim Grassi image and signature  Jim Grassi, D. Min.

We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5