My best advice to all of the parents of all the kids in my church is really simple. Never – and I mean never – let you kids leave your home! If you want to avoid the insides of your heart physically aching just don’t let them leave. My next piece of advice is this. Ignore my first piece of advice! Yes as hard as it is to let your birds fly from your nest, and as tempting as it is to keep them in the nest, the very thing you cannot do is keep them in the nest. We’ve got to let our kids fly.
If you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know that last week we dropped off our son at college. I want to share with you this one little moment that struck me as so beautiful. The college my son is attending had this great little convocation where all the professors surrounded the incoming freshman in a big circle, prayed a blessing over them, and then shook their hands. At the end of this convocation ceremony it was time for the moms, dads and families to say goodbye. Tears were flowing! As my wife and I started walking out of the gym, towards that moment we would say goodbye we saw this one mom weeping. We didn’t know this sweet mom from Adam, but my wife – God bless her – went out of her way as she was crying her own tears to go over and hug this other mom. These two mom’s, who didn’t even know each other, were frozen there in this one moment of pride and pain and it was just exquisite to me. God has given the human race this amazing capacity to share our joys and our sorrows, and it’s beautiful.
This is a picture of me standing in front of the house in Seattle I came home to when I was first born. Today I’m moving my son into his college dorm. It’s a cool full circle experience because I’m literally moving him into a dorm that is mere miles away from the home in which I spent the first two years of my life. I remember nothing from Seattle, but it is the city of my birth, where my father once served as a young local pastor. It is now the city where I entrust my son to an excellent college institution. I’m praying for incredible blessings from God to pour into my son’s life, in the same way God has poured blessing into my life ever since I first set foot on the planet 54 years ago in Seattle WA.
Last night Aleta and I got to hang out with a bunch of parents we’ve known since our son was in kindergarten. We’ve had the privilege of knowing them through elementary school, middle school and high school. We’ve seen them after school, at cub scout meetings, little league, basketball games and Parent Teacher Club meetings. Now we were seeing them because we’re all sending our son’s off to college. Is there a single word for the emotional landscape of feeling both blessed and blue at the same time? If there is such a word please tell me what it is because that’s what I’m feeling right now. I feel so blessed to have the ability to say that my son’s childhood was a profound gift of goodness to me. I feel blue in saying goodbye to that season of his childhood. I think this is what we all felt as parents last night as we watched our sons, and their high school friends, laugh and joke around as they all awaited those next big steps in their lives. A new season in my life dawns, and the same God who has been faithful in the past will be faithful once more.
Well we did it. With the help of a friend I was able to jack up our 2 ton finished back yard shed 16 inches up in the air. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be halfway toward the goal of making a new foundation and then carefully bringing the completely finished room down on its new floor. When I first opened up that floor and saw all of the water damage, I’m not gonna lie – the reality of the project that lay ahead of me felt pretty overwhelming. But I called a friend in our church, who is always doing crazy projects around his house, and he has been an incredible help! There’s just something about not being all alone in a big project that feels overwhelming.
A crazy thing happened when we were jacking up the shed. My friend, who will remain nameless, but his first name starts with “K” and his last name rhymes with Spoon. The moment he stepped out of his car at my house he realized he had misplaced his wallet. “No worries,” he said. “We’ll find it later. Let’s get this shed jacked up.” So we went and jacked up the shed and celebrated with a high-five. When he got back to his car to drive home, he saw on the top of his car his spare keys and said, “Uh Oh! I left my wallet and spare keys on top of the car on the way to your house. And my wallet had $150 in cash!” I felt horrible that he’d come to help me and now he’d lost his wallet. He drove off, and I wished him luck. Literally 20 minutes later I got a phone call and it was my friend. “I found it! I can’t believe it but I retraced my steps and found my wallet set on top of someone’s mailbox with all the cash and everything still inside!” We both laughed at how things turned out, and then he said, “Isn’t God good!?” Yeah my friend, in all things God has a funny way of proving Himself good.
Yesterday morning, right after worship, someone in our church asked me, “How are you doing Andy?” They know my tender heart is getting ready to watch another bird fly from our family nest and start college. We’re one child closer to an empty nest. It was so kind of them to ask me how I was doing, and the answer is: kinda okay, and kinda not okay. I’m kinda okay because of my great pride in my son, and my eager anticipation of how he will grow and find new friends and new adventures. On the other hand I’m kinda not okay because I’m saying goodbye to a season of life with him that was rich and wonderful. I finished by saying to them, “You know what’s the hardest for me right now? Waiting for the change to happen.” As a recovering control-freak I don’t do transitions very well. I just want the difficult change to happen as fast as possible so that I can get busy making my necessary adjustments. Waiting for that kind of looming transition is not easy for me, and yet it’s a place where I need to just sit still with the Lord. I am, once again, being given the opportunity to surrender my control in this transition and be present to God, and to my emotions, and be open to whatever God wants to say, do, or show. Maybe you don’t do transitions all that well either. I get it – believe me – I get it.
A week ago the POTUS met with “evangelical leaders” and shared with them his view that they were “one election away from losing everything.” Look, I’m not going to dive deeply into anything political here, but I do want to share some very important theological parameters we believers need to put around these kinds of statements made by many people in the current zietgiest. I do think President Trump is accurately speaking to deeply held fears possessed by many Christians in America. The question is – what are believers afraid we’re losing? Allow me to share some great insights from a thoughtful article written by Michael Horton who is the Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary in California. In his article “What are Evangelicals Afraid of Losing?” he makes some good points for us to consider as we prepare for another election cycle this Fall.
Here are some of his important thoughts from the article:
- If an election can cause us to lose everything, what is it exactly that we have in the first place?
- It’s not when we’re fed to lions that we lose everything; it’s when we preach another gospel . . . And yet, swinging from triumphalism to seething despair, many pastors are conveying to the wider, watching public a faith in political power that stands in sharp opposition to everything we say we believe in.
- Something tremendous is at stake here: whether evangelical Christians place their faith more in Caesar and his kingdom than in Christ and his reign. On that one, we do have everything to lose—this November and every other election cycle. When we seek special political favors for the church, we communicate to the masses that Christ’s kingdom is just another demographic in the US electorate. Let’s face it. Liberal and conservative, Catholic and Protestant, have courted political power and happily allowed themselves to be used by it. This always happens when the church confuses the kingdom of Christ with the kingdoms of this present age.
- In his Great Commission, Jesus gave authority to the church to make disciples, not citizens; to proclaim the gospel, not political opinions; to baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, not in the name of America or a political party; and to teach everything that he delivered, not our own personal and political priorities. And he promised that his presence with us is something that the world can never take away.