Being a parent is awesome, life-giving, affirming, and joyful….except when it isn’t.
Sometimes, sharing wisdom with my kids feels like I’m pouring liquid gold down a big, sucking, abysmal, mud hole. When they’re little, they look back at you with the thousand-yard stare that tells you no one is home behind those beautiful baby blues. When they’re teenagers, they give you the hidden eye roll that you can feel, even when you don’t see it, coupled with the spoken or implied “whatever.” I’m sure there is a 20-something version of this barely-benign dismissiveness as well, but I haven’t been there yet.
After a hard, long day at work, I know that the last thing you want to do sometimes is to get into their room and into their lives, investing the physical and emotional energy of engaging with them by pouring life and truth into their hearts, only to have them tell you “I know that already.” Of course you do, my little genius. It can be a real beat- down.
Man up (or woman up) and do it, anyway.
Because one of the things I’m seeing as I’ve been doing this job for quite a while (yeah, I know, I’m sounding like an old man) is that your work is bearing great fruit. A metaphor I have used for a while is stacking kindling. Every time you, your church, or this school shares godly wisdom, the truth of His Word, with your kids, it is as if we are laying one more life-giving log at their feet. A log that has the latent power to provide flourishing, a deep sense of mission, a deep passion for the Lord, a profound sense of God’s calling on their lives. In short, all you’ve ever wanted and prayed for them. Log by log. Year by year.
I’ve seen a bunch of kids walk out of here surrounded by un-seared kindling. Many times, it was even dampened. In my early days, I thought of those kids as mission failures. “Boy, we messed that one up. If only we had….”, I’d think. How foolish I was to think that it depended on me, or that the stacked kindling counted for nothing…
…until I watched the Holy Spirit, in His sweet precious, perfect time, ignite that kindling. Sometimes, it was long before they walked out of this school. Other times, it was years later. Some kids took the easy route, had what Matt Chandler calls, “boring testimonies.” Some were, well, a little more…spicy. And painful. But, that God who loved them passionately and who heard every single prayer uttered from the sometimes-desperate lips of their loving parents never forgot that kindling, and when He was ready to light it, WOW!
You see, that kindling is all right there. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t go “in one ear and out the other”, like they say. God’s Word does not return void. It just sits there. Waiting. And, when the Holy Spirit ignites it, spiritual maturity comes significantly quicker and stronger and more fervently than it ever could or would without the kindling. Kids come back six months later and are completely different people. Transformed by the gospel, enflamed for Jesus Christ, on mission and full of grace, wisdom and truth.
Like my former student I just left a few hours ago, whose major, painful bout with something awful was the Holy Spirit’s catalyst for turning a selfish, prideful, but charmingly handsome guy into an amazing, passionate, mature, disciple-making follower of Jesus in about six months. I don’t even recognize him as the same guy anymore; no one does. Like all of us, he’s got a ways to go and a road ahead. But, he’s on the right one, and his kindling is a raging bonfire.
So, keep stacking, Mom and Dad. And praying. Your faithful patience now will make that fire brighter and warmer in God’s perfect timing.