Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Be Strong and Show Yourself a Man

Yesterday, my youngest child, my son, graduated from high school. This is a letter I wrote him to mark the occasion:

Dear CJ,

On your graduation day, it would be good to look back on all of the adventures we’ve had over the past 18 years of your life.  We could reflect on all the funny stories and great memories—the fun times, the goofy stuff.  But I want to take this time to be serious and remind you of something that you hated about school.  I want to remind you of the tests.  I know—on graduation day, the last thing anybody wants to think about is tests. But since your diploma is still in our hands and not yours, we’re going to talk about what I want to talk about.

In your 18 years on earth, you’ve experienced some tests. One of the blessings of homeschooling is that your whole life doesn’t revolve around a test schedule—except the dreaded annual testing.  It was different before we started homeschooling, and it certainly has been different with all the classes you have been taking at Bluefield College.  Tests are tough.  They require preparation.  They require mental toughness.  They require being able to adapt to the teacher’s idiosyncrasies and style.  They require you to see and communicate the material as the teacher sees it, not necessarily how you see it. 

But school tests aren’t the only tests you’ve experienced. You have been blessed to be raised in a Christian home and we have worked hard to protect you from many of life’s tests until you were ready to handle them.  But you’ve still had some.  It took you 10 days in neonatal intensive care to pass your first test.  Later, you were tested with moving from state to state, having to leave friends behind and make new ones—that’s a test.  A dad being away from home far too much when you were little—that’s a test.  Extended family issues, dealing with the loss of loved ones—those are tests.  Transitioning from being a military brat to a PK—that’s a test.  Those tests have been tough.  We tried to prepare you for them and shepherd you through them.  They developed a mental toughness in you.  They required you to learn to adapt to different styles and situations.  They allowed you to see and communicate with people through their eyes, and not just your own.

The thing about tests is, there is great satisfaction when you do well—and you have done very well.  My pride wells up as I think about how well you’ve done.  But then there are the times when failure comes.  You are a good student and haven’t experienced much failure.  Through God’s grace and protection, you haven’t experienced much failure in life either.  But it will come.  And how you handle those failures is what will determine the kind of man you become.  You’ve heard me say before—a man’s character is shaped and displayed more in failure than in success.  James puts it like this: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

My prayer for you on your graduation day is that you will be steadfast and immovable—that you will endure in your faith, in your strength, in your manhood.  I would love to pray that tests and trials would not come your way—but I won’t.  As much as it will hurt your mother and me to see you go through trials and tests, we will pray that you continue to learn endurance and steadfastness through them, so that you will never be shaken.  So my words to you on this important day are the same words that were given to me by my Papaw Drake.  They are the words King David spoke to his son Solomon in 1 Kings 2:2-3: “Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

Son, you are growing into a man of faith, character and strength.  I am very proud of you now.  But more than that, I’m proud of who the Lord is making you to be.  May the Lord give you just enough tests in life that you will be able to be strong and show yourself a man.

Love, Dad and Mom


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