Our son Samuel is a fine young man born with a good sense of humor, but three years ago, he grew dull and isolated.
As his mother, I weep daily in prayer for him, especially after a recent incident that left me repenting in sackcloth and ashes.
Before I narrate that, would it please you to know why we named him Samuel?
After bombarding the gates of heaven for eight years since tying the knot, his father and I saw no better handle for our first fruit than the copy of the biblical character who lived a blameless life before man and God.
We believed and prophesied that he would be like his namesake, rebuking the Eli's of today and rekindling the neglected fire on many altars.
Our little Samuel started out on the right foot. Getting born again at six, he went to church with zeal, said his prayers with fervor, memorized scriptures with rare fascination, and showed promise of a future passionate preacher.
I couldn't help but imagine my humble self before God's throne on that Great Day, receiving a massive crown of gold as the reward for my commendable efforts in raising a mighty man of God.
But without warning, our Samuel couldn't escape the temptations of late adolescence and early twenties.
He stopped attending church, even when we threatened to dry the stream of his pocket allowance.
He began listening and dancing to the world's music and hated the gospel genre with a passion. He changed friends. And I feared he kept a girlfriend!
A deep wound in our hearts. We publicly took the blame, although in private, I didn't believe we were fully responsible. Train up a child in the way he should go…And when he is old, he would not depart from it. But had we not trained him?
Enough of that explanation.
Last Sunday, I sat on our verandah, as usual, with my tight friend, who's younger than me and is a member of our church. She's the secretary of Zion Women, the name of the church women's group, and I am the president.
For more than an hour, as usual, we analyzed and audited different church members.
From failing marriages, to heady children, through worldly youths, old desperate single women, unfaithful and irresponsible husbands, the mendicant and covetous Mama Pastor, to non-tithing members, we gossiped, mocked, and laughed.
"Mama," a voice said from the door.
My friend and I turned our faces around. I thought Samuel had gone out as usual to party with his friends until late at night.
He had the most disgusting face I'd ever seen on him – a frown, dead eyes, and flat dry lips.
I smiled, trying to play my Christian card. "Hey, son, I just came back from fellowship. Where have you been?"
"From Fellows' Ship, you mean?"
I looked at my secretary. She was also confused, picking a non-existent pimple from her forehead.
Folding his arms across his chest, Samuel leaned against the door. "Your so-called fellowships are nothing but small cliques of gossipmongers, slanderers, backbiters, and evil talkers. A bunch of hypocrites! That's why I want nothing to do with you." He went inside the house.
My eyes blinked rapidly, with numerous glances at my puzzled friend.
"Um…Samuel…son…" I rushed inside and met him in his room. Slowing my steps, I approached his bed.
"Son, even if we've failed, is that enough reason for you to give up on God? You know this thing is a personal relationship with God."
He mumbled something and then said. "Doesn’t THAT your Bible say something about 'The name of God is maligned and blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you!'?
Before I'd recovered my mind to contest that my son wasn't a gentile, he released another missile.
"The older women are to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers… but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind…so that no one will malign the word of God. "
I sat on the bed as my legs weakened. "Samuel, you know the Bible. Live it, even if you don't see your Mama and Papa do same."
Samuel took a book from under his pillow and tossed it at me. He'd written page after page of what he titled, The Whispers of a Christian Skeptic.
A tingling sensation seized my legs as my eyes read, with disbelief, words my son had penned down. It was his handwriting, but I still hoped to discover he'd just copied it from someone else.
"You now doubt the Bible is true?"
Samuel didn’t reply.
"Samuel, talk to me!"
He shifted on the bed and cleared his throat, avoiding eye contact. "I've questions, but I'm seeking for the answers. By myself!" Then he lifted a finger at me. "Don't try to preach to me. I'll find the answers, and until I do, don't bug me anymore about going to church and all that stuff."
I returned outside. My friend had gone.
It's four days now, but I haven't recovered from that shock.
Maybe my Samuel has rebuked me – in accordance with the prophecies at his birth – but from an anti-religious position? I know a war wages on in him. Evidently, he's disappointed with godless Christianity, but he's also not happy with his knew life in secularism. My poor child.
My question remains: Can I bear enough fruit, and fast enough, to convince him to return to the right path before he'd sustained long-lasting scars from sin? I don't know, but that's one of my prayers, nonetheless.
“Preach the Gospel to everyone and use words if necessary.” – St. Francis of Assisi (Let your actions speak more than your words.)
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