I don’t know about you, but I sort of feel like the summer is already flying by far too quickly. It seems like only a few days ago we were getting ready for the last day of school and the celebrations that followed, now we’re nearing the middle of July! Time certainly does fly right by!
I know that in the days leading up to the break, Jennifer and the kids put together a list of the extra things they wanted to try to do this summer, such as visits to the park, picnics, swimming, and a host of other things. The heat has been somewhat of an obstacle for several of the activities. My own personal list involved doing a whole lot less than normal—in fact, a whole lot of nothing—and yet I’ve found myself in the middle of finishing a basement renovation before Joshua’s graduation party this Saturday. It wasn’t necessarily how I was planning to spend my midsummer evenings, but looking at it long term, it will be worth the effort when it’s done. I suppose there are a lot of things we can view from this same perspective.
Considering my son Joshua and looking back over the years, I’m sure that just like me, you can think on times when raising your own children was a difficult task. In fact, you might say it was one of the most challenging endeavors that the Lord ever allowed. It’s not uncommon for Jennifer and me to turn at look at one another in any particular circumstance involving our children and say, “Would you have ever thought you’d be here right now?” The answer is almost always, “No.” And it’s an honest no, because when either of us was younger—still kids, in a sense—who’d have thought we’d ever really be on the other end of the strange situations that we were imposing on our own parents. Forget the diaper changes. Over the course of years, that seems easy to me now. I’m talking about the late night in the Emergency Room because the child made a poor choice on the jungle gym, or terrifying diagnosis, or a conversation of comfort and encouragement in the face of a friend’s harsh words, or the seemingly never-ending sanitizing when the Rota virus is sweeping through the house, or sorting through a situation when the child did something wrong and found himself in trouble, or the countless hours of cleaning only to see everything wrecked again in less than ten minutes, or the arguments about this or that issue. I could go on and on, and I’m sure that most anything I’d share would resonate with many of you. But the point is that a lot goes into seeing a child through to adulthood, and while many of the events are not what we may have wanted or expected, I stand here at the edge of our first child’s graduation from high school and I say that the work was worth it.
But having said this, there’s a more important point that needs to be shared, and it’s that without the Lord and His Gospel being at the heart of the effort, there’d have been no chance of true success. And by success, I don’t mean that the child manages to stay out of prison and instead gets a great job, has a great marriage, and is a productive member of society. What I mean is that the child has been raised in a way to know the savior, Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness of sins He has won by His life, death, and resurrection. This is most important.
I’m pretty sure I once shared in a sermon that while I’ve had many goals as a dad, the most important thing to me is that when I’m well situated in the midst of heaven’s eternity, at some point along the way, my wife and children will be within arm’s reach, and I’ll be able to turn to them and say, “I’m so glad you’re here.” That’s what I want most. And so all of the effort now, no matter how challenging it may be, has as its main strategy the effort to keep Jesus in the middle of it all.
Always be willing to give Jesus to your children. And I encourage you to do this as much as you can while you can. Of course this means being faithful in worship, but it also means keeping Christ at the center of life’s occurrences—both good and bad. Again, things may or may not turn out for success in this life. Our children may stray. They may get into some serious, life-altering trouble. But in the end, their hearts will have been regularly cultivated to know that, ultimately, Christians are not inheritors of this world. We are inheritors of the world to come, and so we continue to introduce Christ to our families knowing that the Word of the Gospel is powerful, and in the hour of deepest need, there is the promise of forgiveness no matter how long and hard the road has been.
It will be a moment when the effort seemed so challenging—and sometimes even hopeless—but in the end, it will have been worth it.
I pray the Lord’s blessings by this Gospel to you and your family. I am most certainly confident that it is the only true message of power that can actually change human history and establish the best future for our kids.