Over the past few days, I have had people tell me where they were on July 20, 1969. They shared what they were doing the moment that Apollo 11 landed on the moon. I was told that I watched it on television (truth be told, I was 3½ and cannot remember; but my mother texted me the following message last Saturday: “50 years ago I sat you in front of the TV and said, ‘You may not remember this, but, I want you to be able to say you saw the first man land on the moon.’”) We all have stories of what we were doing during the watershed moments of history.
Some of these moments are global (for a previous generation it might have been D-Day or the falling of the Berlin Wall), some are national (the assassination of JFK or MLK or 9/11) and some are personal (wedding days and birth days). Some moments, like the Apollo 11 moon landing, can be anticipated; others, like attacks of 9/11, are shockingly unexpected. It all makes me realize that sometimes we recognize when our lives (and history) are going to change and sometimes we are caught completely off guard.
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” – the things God has prepared for those who love him…. 1 Corinthians 2:9
The apostle Paul tells us that the most remarkable events of life (and history) are still to come. These events are impossible to imagine: everything we have seen in the past, however spectacular, is nothing in comparison; anything we have heard in the past, however earth-shattering, is of no significance in retrospect; whatever we might conceive in our minds, however incredible, it is nothing like what God has prepared for His beloved.
Perhaps that is what Jesus had intended us to envision when, teaching His disciples to pray, he said, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ The appearing of God’s kingdom will be more marvelous than the moon landing and the accomplishing of God will will be more incredible than the invention of the light bulb. There will come a day when everything in heaven and on earth will pivot and all the ravages of sin will be eliminated, and there will no longer be death or destruction.
This all leads me to a question: what are you going to do with the single most life-changing moment in history; what are you going to do about the hour of Christ’s crucifixion? What were you doing when you realized that Jesus paid the price for your transgressions and the penalty for your disobedience? Where were you when you witnessed the grace and mercy of God that forgave you of your sin? These other events – wonderful and terrific – are worthy of remembering, but the cross is worthy of deep reverence. That moment at Calvary was truly when everything changed.
Our month of celebrations concluded on Monday at approximately 6:45PM when our daughter, Rebekah, walked across the stage of the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion and received her Boston Latin School High School diploma. Exactly a month earlier we were attending the Baccalaureate service for our son, Jonathan, as he prepared to graduate from Gordon College. The following day was Jonny’s commencement. Between these two graduations we, as a family, experienced, at times vicariously, the final day of classes, Senior Prom, a combined graduation party, “senior sign-out day”, and an awards celebration. This month has included some of the most wonderful days and some of the most wearying days I have experienced as a parent.
The past weeks have been wonderful. My wife and I beamed with pride as we heard our child’s name declared and watched them receive their diplomas, gratified in knowing that his and her hard work have been recognized and rewarded. We all rejoiced as they were surrounded by family and friends celebrating their accomplishments. While we, as parents, had little to do with their success, we are proud of what our kids have become.
The past weeks have also been wearying. As I watched them taking steps across their respective daises, I was overcome with dread as I contemplated their next steps. Will, and where will, Jonathan find a permanent job? Is Rebekah ready to head off to Washington and engage a collegiate culture? Have I sufficiently prepared my ‘adult’ children for what comes next in their lives? While I, as a parent, now have no control of the course of their lives, I am apprehensive about what my kids will become.
My problem is that I want to micromanage my children, despite the fact that I am ill prepared to do so. Jonathan and Rebekah will have to manage their own lives. My only hope is that they will remember what they have heard in their formative years. I hope that they can dwell in the very center of God’s will.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
If I could offer one final word of pastoral and parental wisdom for all those who are concluding one chapter of life and beginning to write another: trust the pattern of Romans 12. Offer yourself (wholly and completely) to God, allow the Spirit to shape you instead of adopting the prevailing culture, and then, after doing this, trust that you will be able to discern God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for your life. So many want to know God’s will for the future before they surrender their present to the Lord; that knowledge seems to be reserved for those who are first willing to follow God wherever He leads. Know that He will lead you where you need to go.
I am so proud of all my children, those that have graduated and those who will remain under our roof for a few more years.
Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe, June 13, 2016 https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/06/13/walsh-commends-boston-latin-graduates-for-fostering-dialogue-race/ACvuJolyaLLGOcmZoV2ZdO/story.html