I contemplated what I should say if they were there when I returned, but they had vanished.
Just one dock further, I paddled by two teen girls. They sat side by side eating candy bars and fishing. They waved as I passed. Their parents weren't in sight either. They watched me pass by, contentedly enjoying the peace of the quiet lake.
I also glided by three families of geese parents and babies. The young'uns appeared to be teen-aged geese, but none of them were smoking dope. They were sticking right by their folks. The parents were nervous and attentive. The moment they saw me, they honked to their progeny, and moved swiftly away from me. The teen geese, flanked by their mom and dad, followed obediently.
I kayaked slowly to a little island in the middle of Lake Wylie. Sometimes I see osprey nesting there, but not this time. The nest was empty.
Later, looking at the pictures I'd taken, I reflected on the common theme. In each instance, the message was about parents and children. The geese parents were vigilant, aware of danger, and quick to warn and steer their children from potential harm. They were in a state of high alert. I could relate. That was the sort of parent I was.
In the vignette of the teens doing drugs on the dock, the parents were absent. Maybe they were near, maybe not. The kids were doing things they knew were wrong, and caused if not guilt, at least the knowledge they had to hide their activities. Usually that means they know it is wrong.
The teen girls were also not under the immediate vigilance of their parents. Unlike the druggies, they were passing time engaged in legal, peaceful activities. They didn't run or hide from me. They had no reason to.
Finally, at the end of my journey down the lake was the little island with the empty osprey nest. Those parents had finished their job. Their chicks were grown, and presumably off on their own. The parents were off enjoying the beautiful lake after their stressful season of nesting. I wondered if their spring hatchling had turned into a good, responsible osprey. Did they float on the thermals high above the water content in how well they had handled the job God had given them?
Probably they'd done the best they could do. I think most of us at least try to do our best when it comes to parenting.
God was the perfect parent. He would have to be. He is God. Perfect in all things.
Yet His children, Adam and Eve, rebelled. As soon as they did, they hid from Him. Immediately, when found hiding by God, they began the blame game. Their sin was everyone's fault but their own.
I have often wondered how God could have raised such fallen children! He had provided for their every need, created that gorgeous garden for them, given them a whole earth filled with pets (none of which were vicious or dangerous at the time). He banned only the one thing He knew would harm them. Presumably, He'd modeled perfect behavior and morals. Why had they turned from honesty, integrity, obedience, and righteousness and embraced the one forbidden thing?
Our pastor made the point that the book of Proverbs is not filled with promises from God. It is a book of wise actions that are more likely to produce a favorable result but not guaranteed. Thus the often quoted verse of parenting, Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, should not be bandied about as a certainty.
Sometimes, children raised perfectly do depart from the training of the parent. Sometimes, they don't return to it. Whether we parent like the vigilant goose, or the absent druggies' parents, there is no guarantee that God's best plan for our children's lives will be rejected or accepted.
Now don't get me wrong. There are biblical principles that we are to follow as parents. Lots of them. For example, one is to never stop speaking of God and His truths in the presence of our children. We are to "teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deuteronomy 6:7) Clearly the standards we set should reflect God's standards, not the world's or our culture's.
However, the results are not in our control. That is between the child, and God. Those were my thoughts as I kayaked back to my launch site, watching osprey swoop above me.