Dear Son –

Dad and I were so blessed by your phone call last night. Your transparent accounting of what you struggle with at age 22, both as a newly married man and a recently commissioned Infantry lieutenant, convey trust and love for us and a longing to grow.  These two changes in your life are major, in and of themselves.  Together they provide a lot of stress; even if they are circumstances you have chosen and for which you have mentally prepared.    You’ve faced difficult challenges before, since you’ve been a Christian for 6 or so years and have experienced pruning and growth. But new developments have peeled away a comfort layer and revealed more sin for your Father to address.  Your attitude and reaction to some of these feelings raised have caught you by surprise.

The way you described what God has been teaching you was well articulated.  It’s not a first-time lesson nor is it unique to you.  The choice before all Christians is to walk/abide in our human flesh or to walk/abide in Christ.  The first choice is more comfortable because we have developed personal coping mechanisms to deal with daily unpleasantness.  The second option works far better, but either doesn’t always occur to us and/or doesn’t appeal.  Our pride/stubbornness leads us to default to the shortcut, even if we can accurately predict the outcome. We are used to failure, self-condemnation, our own excuses and concomitant spewing over onto those we love.

Here are some observations from your parents who are 31 years older than you.  However, we have really only been growing as Christians for the past 10 years.  So you, your brother, Dad and I are really about the same age as God’s Kids.

Dad and I DID NOT teach you the following: (we have been learning these realities ourselves in recent years, since you left for college)

  • The reason we were born is to glorify God.
  • The nature of life on earth is brokenness and  warfare
  • Because of Christ in us, we can have purpose and joy beyond measure, but they have NOTHING to do with comfort or circumstances.  They have to do with the Cross.

First – the purpose of life is to glorify God.  Relentlessly, the world tells us that life is all about us.  Hear the constant litany – “our comfort, our desires, our bodies, our accomplishments, our purposes, our stuff, and our rights.”   We have to intentionally choose to live moment by moment, breath by breath for what magnifies and makes most of God, not what exalts us.  John Piper exhorts us not to waste our lives on ourselves, no matter how much we beguile ourselves with our own self-worth.  Self, self, self!

Second – because of the Fall, life is hard.  Because of Satan, we are in a war.   John Piper calls us to adopt a warfare mentality.  That’s not bad.  You were mentioning that a good soldier always has a plan and is prepared to fight.  Our enemy is not just terrorists from another land, fellow humans.  All they can do is kill us.  Our real enemy is far worse. He can deceive us into believing that God doesn’t exist, or in inventing our own version of God, made in our image.

So even though we Christians know how the story ends, we have to be alert and on guard.  The American dream in both the active working years and in retirement is a major ploy of Satan’s.  He has lulled us into thinking that this life is all there is and we had better enjoy it.  Meanwhile, he is behind our lines as a 5th column, beguiling the ‘innocent’.   Be mad!  Get righteously angry, but not at fellow humans, but at the Father of Lies.

My 3rd point is worth more discussion than I have time right now.  But I don’t think you need convincing of the possibility of lasting joy and purpose in Christ.  We are comforted and assured by God’s Word that, even now on Earth, we have eternal life.  Furthermore, God be praised, we are blessed with brief glimpses of joy even while wearing these perishable bodies.

Yet, as your chronologically older sister and brother in Christ, KNOW that this painful lesson of choosing to abide in Christ, rather than working out of your flesh/ your dominant side is a lesson you will have to RELEARN, time and time again.  I’m sorry to tell you that.  Were it otherwise!  But that’s reality here on Earth.  I still struggle with complaining and a poor attitude. I have to be pulled up short, daily.  I’m even doing what I love, teaching French.  Still I grumble, because of lack of perceived comfort, time, and choice circumstances, all the ME- desires.  Your father is blessed to sing with a quality chorus as a hobby.  He still struggles with the insidious temptation to work alone out of his own strength, thus experiencing frustration or to be yoked with Christ and enjoy rest.  How simple the choice seems with distance.  How blind we are.

So be prepared to fall again and again. We thank God for your wife, a godly woman who loves you and will hold you accountable.  And you will do the same for her, when she fails to remember the way life is.   Repentance is a blessing and the Father’s arms are never shut.  Fly to him frequently.


Mom & Dad