Would you be a Pilgrim for your children or grandchildren? Would you risk your life for their future? Many of us believe that the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom. This is only partly true. “They also came,” writes Chuck Colson, “because their teenagers were giving them fits.”
Here’s some background. The Church of England was the established church in 1608. If a Christian objected to aspects of the “official church,” they were labeled a Separatist and sometimes thrown into prison for worshipping “in their own way.” A group of those Separatists escaped to Holland in 1608 because they were determined to worship as they believed they should. William Bradford, age seventeen, was among them. In his journal, Bradford noted how desperate the Separatists were becoming, not because they couldn’t worship as they wanted, but because it was difficult to make a living. Labor was grueling and some of the Separatists actually preferred prison in England to liberty in Holland.
It was not, however, the backbreaking work that motivated this group of Christians to leave Holland and set out for America. It was their children. Many of the young people who had moved with families from England to Holland were losing their faith. They were influenced by a licentious culture. They were lured by evil examples. They were turning away from their parents and living wayward lives. The Christians who had escaped from England to Holland now realized it was time to plan a dangerous journey — for the sake of their sons and daughters.
Parents have always had to take a stand against evil in the battle for the souls of their children. In the case of the Pilgrims, staying in Holland meant watching their children be tempted away from God by saloons, prostitutes and sensual living. These parents, with their children’s eternal future in view, needed to act.
Perhaps you have thought about becoming a Pilgrim. Perhaps, because your children are giving you fits, you have entertained the notion of packing them up and moving to a “safe” place away from it all. But where is such a place? For a while, the Pilgrims found new land where they could instruct their children in the way of the Lord. But soon enough, their children’s children were also tempted and giving their parents fits. That’s how it is with sinful people in a sinful world.
So what is a parent to do? We may not be able to escape the culture, but we can certainly equip our children for living in it without being of it. This requires training… training that begins in the home. Our own as well as theirs.
This Thanksgiving, we can do what the Pilgrims did. We can look at our children in light of their eternal destiny. We can be willing to do the hard things that godly parents have always had to do. We can be faithful… not trusting in ourselves, but holding fast to the Word of Life.
(With appreciation to Chuck Colson
and his devotional How Now Shall We Live, 2004)