We’re taking my oldest on a college visit tomorrow. Add, “It will be here before you know it” to the list of things I always promised I wouldn’t say to other, younger parents that I have now actually said. These little milestones in life always make me a little contemplative. I think back over the course of raising our girls, when people would ask us things like where we thought they would go to college, what they would do for a living, and the like, my wife would always say “as long as they love Jesus, I don’t really care.”
And, although I would smile and listen and say nothing every time I heard her say it (and she said it every time), inside I would always think, “Yeah, but….” Loving Jesus is great, but wouldn’t it be good if they ended up in this school or this town or this job or this ministry or any of the other exotic fantasy lives my ambitious mind could conjure for them? My dreams for my kids always seemed so much grander than theirs, or even God’s. Now that each moment I have with my oldest seems like the first and the last, I’m starting to realize that my wife had it right all along.
If they just love Jesus:
– Where they end up in college (or not in college) is not as important as how their Sovereign Lord will use that experience to equip and mold them for His purpose for them. (I mean, I chose my college through the highly empirical process of following the girl I was dating, only to break up with her a week after we got there. God used those four years as some of the most formative in my life. Who am I to be giving college advice?)
– They’ll see God’s meaning and purpose for their lives, see work as good and commensurate with that meaning, and choose a vocation that challenges them, tears at their heart, yet fills them with deep, abiding satisfaction (and hopefully won’t have to wait 15 years to get there, like their old man!)
– Even if they make very little money doing whatever that is, they’ll experience the provision of their Father who clothes the lilies and the birds, and they hopefully won’t struggle with the weight of possessions the way that their parents have.
– They’ll hold all that they have with an open hand, and they won’t be afraid to give of themselves generously and anonymously, because they’ll believe that their Father really does see, and they’ll feel His pleasure.
– They’ll be able to suffer well, like the mama whose child is sick and who taught and inspired me the other day with her faith and her desperation in holding tightly onto Jesus (thank you).
– They’ll embrace the commitment to justice that is characteristic of their generation, but justice that is Spirit-empowered, tempered with godly mercy and love, and that has eternal, in addition to temporal, consequences.
– They’ll care for the earth, not as worshippers of nature like so many of their age, but as wise stewards of Creation.
Come to think of it, every night since they were babies, as I’ve prayed over their sleeping bodies (no mean feat now, with night owl teens!), I’ve never once prayed, “Lord, help them get into a good college; help them get a good job; help them make a lot of money”, or any of these fates my ambitious little mind has conjured for them. In the darkness, lulled by the peaceful sound of their deep breathing, watching their beautiful rest, the Spirit cries out to my spirit–it’s all crystal clear… my wife is right…if they’ll just love Jesus, I don’t care about the rest. Please, Lord, let it be.