i’ll be an empty-nester a year from now. hard to believe. jake has begun his 2nd year at unc-beach (or is that a w?) ashley is a senior at AK. it seems like just yesterday…
(here, imagine me going into a daydream, reviewing reels and images of my kids at the various stages of life).
when my kids were younger, i was like most dads, wanting not only the best for them, but for me too. that is, i wanted them to be the best at something. something that might bring me a little pride. something for which i might be able to point at them and say, “that’s my kid!” while i know that some parents go way overboard on this, i do think there is something normal about it. built in to us as parents. heck, even God did it, right?
“this is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (matthew 3.17, NLT)
i really don’t know what it is about us parents. maybe we just need the affirmation that we’ve done a good job. something to validate us. i figured that as a parent, there is nothing sweeter.
in the elementary school years, i thought i saw it coming. both kids were put into the accelerated learning programs, or whatever they were called. i can’t recall, since it didn’t last into middle school. but there for a while…
it also looked good on the soccer field. i had played from an early age, up through my college days, and decided to coach them as long as possible. a college scholarship seemed a real possibility, especially for ashley. certainly, high school stardom seemed a given. but it wasn’t to be. each of them, sometime in middle school, walked off the field one day, hung up their cleats, and said i’m done. i remember crying in dick’s sporting goods one day, the season after ashley’s last, looking at the soccer gear, knowing those special days, and her potential, was in the past.
and that was that. those days haven’t been followed by stellar report cards or eagle scout awards. no all-star athlete or valedictorian. and now, i’m a year away from being an empty nester….
but along came sibel and ali.
sibel is a new friend of ashley’s who goes to another school. they met at a YoungLife camp in the mountains of georgia in june. sibel wasn’t taken to church as a kid, and knew only bits and pieces about the gospel, the love of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus. at camp, she began putting things together. her roomie, my little ashley, wrote us a postcard early in the week: “pray for sibel. pray that she will become a Christian.” ashley was with sibel every minute that week… right up to the evening when sibel asked Jesus to be her savior.
somehow, in some small way, ashley took part in the greatest moment in sibel’s life.
that’s my kid!
on sunday morning, july 25, ali painted the face of Jesus on our stage during worship. bet you didn’t know that as she was doing so, she wasn’t saved. Jesus was her object of art, but not the object of her eternal affections. not yet.
the next morning, as i climbed from my bunk on our appalachian service trip, i found i had received an email from ali. jake had kept her up late sunday night, talking to her about the One she had painted. she wrote to let me know how much it had meant to her. see, ali wasn’t raised in church either. she only began attending church in the past year. and Threshold only in the past few months. but in those months, jake has taught her, encouraged her, watched the Passion of the Christ with her. prayed for her.
on the day ali painted Jesus, she was not a child of God.
today she is.
and in october, i get to baptize her.
jake did good. that’s my kid!
i honestly don’t know why i write this to you guys today.
might be that as i approach empty-nesthood, i needed a little affirmation that i did OK as a dad… but i don’t think so.
could be that many of you are just getting started in raising your kids, and i’d like to encourage you to point your kids to success and achievement in the area of life that ultimately matters most… maybe.
but here’s what i think. i think that the reason i have tears in my eyes as i write this is because God has been good. He has been faithful. when jake and ashley were tiny babies, they were baptized. as our parenting days began, michelle and i stood there and made promises before God and God’s people to raise our kids to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. it’s an awesome feeling to know that as they leave the nest, we’ve kept the promise of all promises. my two kids are in the eternal care of the Lord of all creation.
sweeter still, two of their friends are also in the eternal care of their Lord and Savior Jesus. to see two more people understand the love of Jesus, and give their lives to him is awesome.
to know that your kids had something to do with THAT?
there’s nothing sweeter.
sibel and ali, welcome to the eternal kingdom, and the family of God!
we love you!