Thursday, April 14, 2016

An Open Letter to My Graduating MK Son

We are standing at a bridge...
A moment of transition and change.

My heart wants to fear. My heart wants to fight it.
I must remind myself... this is what we have labored so long to see.

Years ago, I pictured it happening much differently. How could I have foreseen the miles of distance that would be included? When we surrendered to be missionaries in Asia, I really didn't think about this part.

How could I have realized this time would be upon us so quickly?

I want to cheer and yet I want to weep. I want to smile and yet I want to run.

Your dad said it so much better than I can. For me, the words will not come. I am torn. Please see my tears as tears of joy for you... and yet know that you will always be my little boy.

We love you.


The Letter from Dad

Dear Son,

I have been struggling in my mind over whether it is time to leave you in the States for college.  I have been worrying whether it is too soon – whether you are mature enough to handle the serious responsibilities you are soon to take on.  You will only be seventeen.  You finished your schooling early.  Should we keep you another year?  There was a fear that you would make bad choices and go astray.

I woke this morning with this burden heavy on my heart.  I prayed to the Lord, “I must make a decision.  I want to make one with confidence knowing Your will.  I want to have a good conscience and do the right thing for my son.  Please show me clearly from Your Word today.”

The Lord answered that prayer.  He comforted my heart and gave me direction from Ecclesiastes 11.  Here is what He showed me:

Verse 1 – Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

The bread here is likely referring to seed. Solomon was talking about the difficult decision farmers had to make when it came time to sow their seed for that year’s crop.  When was the right time to sow their seed?  Farmers worried about sowing their seed on the overflowing banks of the Jordan only to lose it downstream to someone else’s field. Sometimes last year’s harvest wasn’t plentiful, and they had to cut back on the amount of bread they made to allow for enough seed for next year’s crops.

You are my seed.  I worry about these same things.  I ask the same questions.  Is it too soon to let you go on your own?  Will the waters carry you away? It is difficult, knowing that there will be a void in our family when we return to Asia and you will be on the other side of the world.  An empty chair at the table; an empty bedroom; a strange silence. We will miss you like our own bread. 
But God reminded me, “Cast…for thou shalt find it after many days.”

Verse 2 - Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.

When the poor came to the farmer begging bread – and food was scarce even for the farmer – it was tempting for him to say, “No.  I have worked hard to earn this bread.  It is for my family.”

It is likewise tempting for us to be selfish with you.  We have worked hard to raise you.  You are part of us.

But you do not belong to us.  You belong to God.  And we do not yet know what plans He has for you.  We do not know the evil and spiritual famine this world will suffer.  We cannot keep you selfishly.  You are God’s servant, not ours.

Verse 3-6 – If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.  He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.  As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.  In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

The farmer can observe the weather and use common sense, but he cannot control the outcome of his crops.  If he spends all his time fretting over the wind and rain, he will not have a crop.  He cannot worry about things that are out of his control.  He must trust God to be merciful and bless the work of his hands.  He must cast the seed and withhold not.  Once he casts the seed, he must commit the keeping of the seed to the faithful Creator, trusting God to take care of the seed and give the increase.

I had no control over you when you were in your mommy’s womb.  I could not assemble you like a machine.  And after you were born, I had no control over your spirit.  I could not force you to repent and trust in Christ.  In the same way, I have no control over you now.  Which way will you fall?  Toward the North or the South?  Will you commit your life to God as a wise son or rebel as a foolish son?  Your mother and I believe you are leaning more toward God than the world.  We see God changing your heart.  We see you maturing and making right decisions to obey and follow Him.  We see you growing every day, and it thrills our hearts.  But you must purpose in your own heart to continue to obey and follow Him. 

Verse 9-10 – Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.  Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

You are a man now.  It is time to “put away childish things” (I Cor. 13:11).  Your mother and I have done our best to raise you in the way of truth.  We are not perfect and have made many mistakes.  But you must choose which way to walk from here.  We can direct you with wisdom and counsel, but we cannot change your heart.  We will rebuke you when we see you do wrong and praise you when we see you do right, but you must decide whether or not to receive our counsel and correction.

But understand this:  You will stand before God and give an account to Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  You will answer for the decisions you make, where your feet go, what your eyes look upon, and what you believe in your heart.
Purpose now to “Remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh…Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth…” (Eccl. 11:10-12:1).

The Lord comforted my heart with these words.  I have submitted to His instruction in my heart.  I have a clear conscience in this matter.  I am committing you to our Heavenly Father, and I am confident that He will direct you as He did your earthly dad years ago and your Grampa before that.  I am casting my bread upon the waters…

Know that your mother and I love you and will be praying for you every day.  Know that we will do our very best to be there for you when you need us.  Know that we are so proud of the man you are becoming, and that we are excited to see what God will do with you.  Know that you have always been and still are in the hands of the Heavenly Father, and His love for you is much greater.

Put the Lord first in your heart, and follow Him.


Shari House said...

Very precious indeed and wise. I trust you will enjoy these next 4 months together immensely.

Susan Tingen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D.A. Brosius said...

This is so well written and so well said. It is indeed very scarey and sad to see them leave and to hurt when they don´t always make wise decisions. I think we are parents forever and will always feel the empty rooms and fear for our kids, but we know that the Lord sees and loves them even more than we do. Very good article. Thanks.