Our oldest child has recently started driving. Though my husband and I understood that this day would come, I keep asking myself, Have we prepared her well?

Our daughter learning to maneuver more than 2 tons of moving metal only mirrors a greater journey of trust we’ve embarked on as parents. When our children were little, we took more direct action to steer their spiritual growth. Now we’re playing a different role, one involving a greater level of watchfulness and intercession but less direct decision-making.

The parable of the prodigal son and the older brother (Luke 15:11) not only outlines the redemptive heart of God, but it also resonates with every parent or adult who has loved and invested in the life of a young person. The time comes when decisions must be made, and we quickly learn that we can choose only for ourselves (Luke 15:12-13). Not even the close proximity of our children can ensure that their hearts are pure, because our oversight doesn’t guarantee they’ll make the right choices. They can be in our home and still misunderstand their position as sons and daughters in Jesus’ kingdom (Luke 15:31).

Though we want them to love God first, pursue obedience, and carefully consider the “direction of [their lives]” (Psalm 119:57-60), raising up godly children—biological or spiritual—doesn’t mean we can ensure a life without failure. We must live in such a way that when they find themselves in pursuit of lesser loves, they “see [their] teacher with [their] own eyes. [Their] own ears will hear him. Right behind . . . a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left!” (Isaiah 30:20-21). May they follow God and live out His wisdom!

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Samuel 8:1-5