A few days ago, at a family Christmas Eve party, my son Reuben and his girlfriend Jess announced their engagement! It was a wonderful moment, and we are all delighted to welcome Jess into our family.
Even though I’m now a certified old guy, I can still remember being in my twenties. I remember when Marion and I were engaged. It was an exciting time … life lay ahead of us, and like all young couples, we had big plans. And we didn’t want other people telling us what to do!
My children are much wiser than I was at their age, and much better at taking advice. Amazingly, they are usually willing to listen to their old man! I’m humbled and gratified by this, and if given the opportunity I’ll share what little wisdom I have. But I realize that my children aren’t so different from me, and they want the freedom to make their own choices. I have also learned that my schemes and plans aren’t always right for them, so I am far less quick to make suggestions than I once was. I’ve done the best I could to give them a foundation of love, a chart of truth and a compass of faith to steer by, and now I need to stand back and let them steer their own ship.
Like all parents, I care about the choices my children make. But I’ve pretty much given up the attempt to direct my adult children’s lives. That’s a sure recipe for strife and it won’t do anything to help them learn to trust God for themselves. My new goal is to keep lifting them up before the Lord and encouraging them to surrender all their choices to Him. Of course, they could mess up really badly. They could let pride, fears and insecurities take over instead of trusting God’s wisdom. They could make other mistakes as well … But these are tests that we all have to pass for ourselves; no-one can pass them for us. And if they pass the tests of faith – if they learn to listen to God’s voice and yield to His ways – they’ll discover His destiny and purpose and calling for their lives, better by far than the scenarios that I or any human parent could create for them.