My oldest son is 17, in his junior year of school, and now gainfully employed at McDonald’s. In less than two years, he will be done with high school. We are having conversations right now about what college to go to, his top choices for majors, and how to get through his schooling with as little debt as possible. We have come a LONG way from potty training and multiplication tables. He is well past the stage of life where his decisions are easily reversible, and is now moving steadily into adulthood.
My wife and I have worked hard for all the years of his life to teach Jonathon how to live an honorable life; how to love deeply; how to walk purely; how to think then act, not the other way around; how to understand God’s Word; how to worship freely; how to spend and save money wisely. We have given our best to him, invested all the energy we could muster (and more), in the hope and expectation that he will have every opportunity to succeed in his life, and to surpass us in every way.
Yet even here, fear has a chance to take hold of me, if I let it. What if I haven’t taught him everything he needs to know? What if we missed something really important, and he falls into some trap that he cannot escape from, but he never even knew the trap existed? The questions can go on and on, if I let them. Some days, I do let these thoughts paralyze me, cause me to question my parenting, my love, and my son’s readiness for adulthood? In those moments, when I allow doubt to creep in, I get stuck. And then, a favorite verse comes to mind:
The key here for me is “when he is old” – as much for what it does NOT say as for what it does say. Proverbs doesn’t say when he is 19, or a college graduate, or a new dad, or a high school junior. No, it says “when he is old.” My wife Barbara and I have spent literally hundreds of hours building into Jonathon the values, theology, morals, kindness, wisdom, humor and love that he have within our hearts. We have given him our all, and we will continue to do so as he moves into adulthood. We hope and pray he will move forward into a vibrant life in Christ that he has already started, and that we won’t have to pin our hopes on “when he is old.”
I don’t have any answers, and I don’t think Proverbs is a magic bullet for good little Christian families. I have seen too many friends go through the heartache of watching their children walk away from the church, and eventually from God Himself. But I still remember being too young, and believing that I knew EVERYTHING, regardless of how ignorant I really was. I also remember waking up one day, and realizing how foolish I had been. So as my son walks into adulthood, my prayers are for his protection from the darkness of the world, and from the foolishness of youth. But beyond that, I take a stand against the fear that says “Your son will fail,” and trust that he will be the man we have taught him to be.