My daughter – the baby of our family – turned eighteen last week. She was born the day before my thirty-ninth birthday. I remember thinking, shortly after she was born, that by the time she turned twenty I would be almost sixty years old. I found that hard to imagine at the time, but here we are, eighteen years later, and my little girl is legally an adult, almost done high school and ready to enter university. She plans to become a social worker. She also senses (because of several words of prophecy and a dream God has put in her heart) that someday she may travel to Spain, possibly in the context of some form of missionary work. In addition, she wants to marry young, have at least four and possibly as many as six children, and live in a large house in the country where she and her husband-to-be can offer hospitality and welcome people in need of love and community. We are praying for a husband with a large capacity for faith and a generous spirit 🙂
My four children are very different from one another in gifting and personality, but they all have dreams. I hope they always do. Life without dreams and visions is hardly not worth living. Bethany has a generous and sensitive heart, is very idealistic, and is highly motivated to serve. As for me, I am highly motivated to help all my children succeed, so (if asked) I will offer advice on how she might plan and prepare to see a specific dream become reality, including possible roadblocks that she might want to consider and prepare for. I have to be careful, though, that in attempting to help her anticipate and be prepared for possible obstacles, I don’t become the one to squash her dreams. The Devil is very skilled at doing that, and he doesn’t need my help.
Like every young person with a vision, Bethany will undoubtedly go through some painful struggles along the road to her dreams – in fact she already has. One of the lessons I have learned as a parent is that while I want to support and encourage my children, I can’t – and shouldn’t – shelter them from all disappointments, heartaches and struggles. Instead, I want to do what I can to prepare them not to be disillusioned or overcome when trials occur, but to stand on God’s promises, knock on the door of heaven with persevering faith, and learn to be overcomers. Sometimes being an overcomer means accepting some adjustments to our dreams. It may even mean holding on to God when it seems that a dream that was precious to us has been totally crushed. It should never involve giving up the capacity or the faith to believe God for new things. God is able to restore broken dreams and broken hearts.
The apostle John, who was Jesus’ best and most intimate friend during his earthly ministry, wrote a letter in his old age to several of the Christian fellowships that he had founded and to which he still gave oversight. Tucked away in this letter are comments addressed to three groups of people : little children (those who are young in the faith), young men (those who are on the way to maturity) and fathers (those who have been following Christ for a long time). I love what he says about those he calls fathers. He says that they have known him who is from the beginning. In other words, their relationship with God has some depth to it. They know Christ not just as their personal Saviour and the One who washed away their sins, but as the One who is before all things and in whom all things hold together; the One who is both First and Last; the One who is coming to overthrow evil, to renew all things, and to establish an eternal Kingdom that can never be shaken.
That’s the kind of faith I want for my children. Although this blog post has focussed mostly on my little girl, now all grown up, all my children are equally precious to me. Joe, Simeon, Reuben and Bethany are all wonderful children – the best a parent could ask for. They are also very different from one another in many ways. They have different gifts, different personalities, different goals. They do, however, have something in common: they were all made in God’s image and He holds the key to their destiny. This life is short (the older I get, the more I know it) and eternity is long. I want my children to be blessed in this life, but above all I want them to remember Who made them, which Kingdom they belong to, what they were made for and where they are headed. If they do, whether their lives on earth are long or short, easy or hard, they will be conquerors in this life and the next, and they will arrive at the threshold of eternity with no regrets.