IMAGINING THE END
Focus your energy and effort on the issues that will make a lasting impact.
The Galatians lost their focus and started emphasizing the wrong things. That’s easy to do, isn’t it? In the sometimes chaotic world of raising a family, sometimes we can lose sight of who and what we are ultimately pointing children towards.
I’m Not God
By Reggie Joiner
As a father of almost-grown children, I have lived through several stages of parenting. I remember walking into my office one day and looking at the rows of books I had collected on family issues. One of my daughters had been through an extremely difficult situation, and I was panicked and frustrated. As I grabbed books off the shelf, I recall saying out loud, “The problem I’m dealing with right now is not in any of these books!”
Sometimes I don’t have an explicit revelation from God that tells me immediately what I’m supposed to do. Sometimes there are no simple solutions, no clear paths of action, no quick fixes; there is just God. Somewhere along the way I have learned to lean on a principle I refer to as “imagine the end.”
The fog usually begins to lift when I mentally fast-forward to the final chapter of my children’s lives and ask a pointed question: Who do I really want them to become? I know that in the middle of that answer is an understanding of who God is. Then I imagine the end and remember that God is writing His narrative. When it comes to my children, the most difficult thing I have ever done is to trust God to show up and do what only He can do. (Did I mention that I have control issues?) Some days I just need to be reminded that my family is part of a bigger picture and that God desires to demonstrate His redemptive power through us. He even leverages the most frustrating conflicts in my family life to remind me that He is God. That day in my office, it was if He seemed to say,
I am not trying to make them happy;
I want them to really live.
In the middle of their pain,
I can be a better friend than anyone, even you.
I am the only one who can really love them unconditionally, forgive them forever, and be a perfect Father.
So maybe you just need to trust Me enough so they can see Me.
Besides . . .
With all your issues, I think it’s probably better for them to trust Me more than they trust you.
Isn’t it more important for them to love Me more than they love you?
I can heal their hearts; you can’t.
I can give them eternal life; you can’t.
I am God; you’re not.
YOU CAN’T COMPETE WITH GOD
As strange as it sounds, I think I have made the mistake of sometimes trying to compete with God. Instead of pointing to Him, I tried to be the hero. There is a critical difference between being an influence or leader in my kids’ live and trying to be everything to them. I have always believed wise leaders in the church work hard to keep God in the spotlight, and the same principle applies to parents. Smart parents will strive to make sure they are not trying to become a substitute for God.
I am learning how important it is to fast-forward to who I want them to become. When I imagine the end, it enables me to distinguish more clearly between what matters and what matters most. And as much as I want my relationship with my children to be everything it should be, it’s much more important that they are pursuing a right relationship with God.