Life is short. How many times have we heard it? I remember hearing this phrase as a five-year-old kid. Of course I didn’t care then, but I didn’t have to. As kids we want time to pass. The passing of time is the rite of passage into the fullness of responsibility. So kids say, “Bring it! Let the time pass.”
Having my own children changed my perspective on this drastically. My childish desires for time to pass quickly have long since died and I have grown to hate the passing of time in some ways. It never actually speeds up but it manages to slip away faster each year. With each new tooth in my kids’ mouths, every new physical development they undergo not only means another gray hair on my scalp but another moment I’ll never get back.
And this isn’t even the most unsettling thing. As more time passes I become more deeply aware of the fact that I’m on a journey. A journey that has an end. A journey is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: “An act of traveling from one place to another”. I am on a journey from one place to another and my passage into another place from this one is physical death. I am going to die one day. So are you. So will your spouse, and so will your children. We are all on a journey that has physical death as the doorway to “another place”.
As my small children grow more and more into little kids and in the decades to come adolescents, teenagers and then eventually adults, I realize that I am growing into deeper levels of adulthood myself.
The journey of parenthood brings me face to face with my mortality. And with mortality comes the realization that my time with my kids and family is limited whether I like it or not. Worst of all, you and I have no idea where we are in our journey toward physical death. It could be tonight or it could be in 50 years. Who knows? We don’t know where our spouse or children are on this journey either.
All I know is this does a couple of things to my heart, and it should do these things to your hearts as parents too.
I AM HUMBLED BY THE JOURNEY
Inasmuch as I can’t spare myself the pain of the journey or avoiding physical death, I can’t spare my family these things either. I am humbled because this is truth. There is no pause button, no reset, no starting over. There’s only start and over. I am not in control of the timing of the journey or strategically executing what happens on it. At best I can influence it, but I must acknowledge that God is the one piloting the journey of my eternal destiny if I belong to Him by faith.
I cannot spare the family the traumas of the trip. I can’t protect my children from heartache, physical pain, injustice or ridicule. I can’t keep their souls as innocent as they are today and avoid the inevitable burden their souls will feel for peace. I can’t spare them, but I can prepare them.
The next logical question is what do they need to be prepared for?
WE WILL MEET JESUS ONE DAY
Hands down. This is the most important day in any one person’s life. Period. End of discussion.
Since we will all meet Jesus face-to-face in all His glory one day then it follows that we should know who He is and what He requires. Where do we learn such things? The scriptures. This is an elementary question but all too often our knowledge of scripture is elementary which means our understanding of and love for Christ is elementary as well. Being that a lot of us lead families, we should seek to graduate to new levels of growth in Christ.
Fathers, are you training your children up to know and fear God? Deuteronomy 6:5-9 instructs parents to be so adamantly pursuing God’s word that to bring Jesus up in any situation is not perceived as awkward and out of place (laying down, walking, hanging signs as reminders, teaching them, talking about Jesus as soon as you wake up). Verse 24 says “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always…”
Training your children to know God’s word is not about helping them win arguments or debates at school. It is literally for their good. Your children, your spouse, and you will all meet Jesus one day. Face-to-face. You can’t spare them of this. Therefore we must prepare them for this.
Parents, do your children know that the word of God has authority in your family? Do you read scripture aloud to them? Do you share with them the stories in scripture that point to the grace and mercy of Jesus?
Are you preparing them…really?
A WORD TO THE FATHERS
Speaking to the men here (since God holds men most responsible for the spiritual environment of their families): Men, the hard truth is that if we’re not preparing our family to meet Jesus then we are absolutely preparing them for a journey that does not end well. There’s no simple way around this. My concern is that most parents spend more time and energy seeking to spare their children the pain of the journey. This is simply not feasible nor possible.
In our efforts to spare them the pain we simultaneously do not prepare them to stand before His name.
Give this a hard and honest look. Are your preparing or sparing?
We are on a journey. Never forget this. It starts, proceeds and ends in His presence.
Parents, how is your journey today? Where is your family? It doesn’t matter if you’re wrecked or broken down. He can meet you where you are. His desire is to welcome you into his presence at the end of the journey.
The question is then, is He welcome on your journey?