One night long ago when I was just a kid, I stood in front of the mirror pretending to brush my teeth. I was going through the ritual and my mind was wandering when I decided to glance out the bathroom and into our living room. There, in the darkness stood my dad. Saying not a word, he was just staring at me smiling. Being the punk that I was – and also a bit startled by his presence – I took the toothbrush out of my mouth and as defensive as I could have possibly conveyed it, I shrugged my arms and said What?!? He said it was nothing, that he was just watching me brush my teeth. Today I sit here knowing very well that he was doing much more than that. He was watching his oldest son brush his teeth, yes, but he was looking at me. And whether he was pleased with what his son had become or disgusted by me I really don’t know. All I know is that he was having a look and perhaps saying goodbye.
He was dead less than 24 hours later.
Lately I have been stealing late night glances at our sleeping children, but not because I have any inkling that my demise is imminent (this, in spite of the fact that we are in the process of taking out supplemental life insurance at this very moment). No, I have just been looking at these sleeping lambs and praying for them. Praying that Emily becomes aware of the fact that even though we are making some hard and difficult decisions concerning her schooling it is all for her betterment and the long-term benefit of the family. I’m praying that Trevor feels safe and secure in our home and that both kids will have the opportunity to simply be children for as long as possible. They will be all grown up soon enough and have to face the darkness that this world presents, making difficult decisions and often dealing with unpleasant circumstances and people. Today I just want them to play and laugh and sing and dance.
I also want them to embrace the promises.
I want to leave behind a legacy to my kids that’s a reflection of trust in God for all things big and small. But lately I have not been a very good steward of that aspiration, as I have been failing to completely trust that He has plans for me. Plans to prosper me. Plans for a hope and a future…
I know those truths yet I have a mind divided. On one level I’m fully aware of His amazing promises, yet every time I fail – typically in my own, futile strength – to take my thoughts captive and obedient to Christ I’m choosing instead to believe the lies and deceptions of the enemy. It’s a rough place to be and it’s a patch of land I hate to stand on today. I plug my ears to the lies, but the shouts are so loud that I’m frequently overcome by their intensity, and when I’m overcome I susceptible to surrender.
But that’s a lie too.
We know that life is not easy and that hardships and persecutions will always come into our lives but that in Him we are more than conquerors and none of these difficulties in life will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ.
So my legacy in uncertain at this moment in time, as I slip and slide back and forth with great moments of faith eclipsed some times by gulf-sized lapses into the abyss of doubt, fear and anxiety. In those moments I know God is calling on me to be strong and full of courage, but not because I am strong, rather, because He is always with me and will never forsake me. There is great and wonderful hope in that for me personally, and I hope you have that same hope today. I want my children to have that hope. I know that they watch me and Samantha and soak in so much of what we are saying and experiencing, so while I sometimes feel pressured to be the “best I can be” in every situation, I believe it is better for them to see me honestly working though these situations and discussing God’s mighty role in the process. And while they don’t necessarily need to personally witness me crippled and paralyzed by fear, doubt and anxiety I nonetheless know that I can be an encouragement to them as they experience some of these same issues in their young and impressionable lives, and I can speak with some authority on the subject because I have been through it myself.
Jesus Christ is not some upper management figure who cannot relate to the daily trials and tribulations of the average worker. Yes, is He is mighty, perfect and holy, but He was made like His brothers in every way and shares in our humanity to not only overcome the power of death, but to also suffer in temptations so that He can relate to and be a comfort to those who are suffering.
Now that’s a promising legacy and one I can relate to.
So I’m going to sneak another peek at Emily and Trevor tonight while they are dreaming. And I’m going to be praying for them – and for me and Sam – that we might know that the God who sent His only Son to die for us has so many rich and amazing promises for us.
He has a promise to meet all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ. He also promises to guard our hearts and minds in Christ when we shake off our anxiousness and bring our prayers and petitions to Him with thanksgiving. And finally, He promises to restore my soul, guide me in paths of righteousness and be a great comforter in times of great distress and doubt.
In my daily battle with the flesh I may not always be a walking illustration of these promises from God to my kids but I’m comforted in knowing that if I simply allow them into my heart on a daily basis and impress them upon the kids, and talk about them at home and in the car, and when we lie down and get up that it won’t return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which God sent it.
That’s a lofty and lasting legacy for my kids and one that fills me with hope for their future.