Today is my oldest son’s birthday. Jonathan turns 20 years-old today. I have a child in his twenties! Where has all the time gone? I was reminiscing earlier this week and stating that I can remember when Jonathan was born; actually I remember when our 6-day old baby went back into the hospital. I remember the wonderful nurses at the NICU at Mass General, I remember dropping off Jeanine at the hospital as I went up to Seminary and meeting her after lunch to spend time with our little boy. I remember ‘hep-locks’ and IVs and ‘billi-lights’ and ‘neonatal sagittal sinus thrombosis’. I remember God being merciful and restoring our baby to full health.
Strangely enough, this was not Jonathan’s brush with mortality. In addition to a few visits to the emergency room to ‘dermabond’ his head (twice) and stitch up his severed fingertip, he was hit by a moving vehicle and hurled into the air like a piñata (before his mother’s eyes) – only breaking his collarbone. It seems nothing could keep him down for very long. I pray that the next twenty years of our son’s life are slightly less dramatic than his first twenty. I also pray that God will continue to hold him in the palm of His hand.
Today I am trying to reconcile competing memories – memories of my son, who really can’t be 20 years old and memories of me at 20 years of age. At 20, I was aimless and lost. I was in the process of failing classes in college and accumulating debt like my kitchen counter accumulates junk mail. I was a few months from a real job and a few years from a personal relationship with Christ. I got into trouble in ways I do not wish to disclose and thank God that He rescued me from so much.
“You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army.” Numbers 1:3
In the early years of Israel, a man was accountable to serve the community and be counted upon when they turned twenty. At twenty, a man was required to register in the census and serve in the army. How times have changed. At twenty, many males today are “boys that shave”. I know this because I was one. So what can a father do to prepare his offspring, now in his twenties for the realities of life? Hopefully, I have done these three things:
- Instill in them a need for a personal relationship with Christ as Lord and Savior;
- Instill in them a knowledge of God’s unique purpose and gifting for every individual; and
- Instill in them a hope that whatever they do for Christ will make a difference for eternity.
There is still time for each of us to stand and be counted. If you have not started teaching these things to your young children, begin today. If your children are twenty or over and you think you’ve lost the opportunity, think again and begin today. If you have yet to grasp these truths for yourself, begin today. God longs to know, equip and empower each and every one of us…especially those of us over twenty, like Jonny.