Ever since I had my first child, I’ve seen letters to children from their parents. In many of these letters the parents wish their child to have a smooth, carefree, and prosperous life. My wish for my children is slightly different.
Dear Son of My Love,
Since you were young, I have sought to train you in the way of the Lord. I have tried to gently steer your course toward God, hoping, praying, that when you’re old enough to take the wheel of your own ship, you’d stay the course and follow hard after the God who is worthy of all our love, admiration, and devotion.
You’re a teenager now. A young man. I’ve seen glimpses of the man you’ll be one day if you keep following the Lord. It brings me great joy –even now– to see Him in your life.
These are my hopes and prayers for your life as you grow to be a man who lives for the Lord.
I hope that you find a young lady who loves you just as deeply and passionately and steadfastly as I love your father. I pray you cherish her enough to value her worth by saving physical intimacy for within the bounds of marriage –no matter how challenging that may be.
I hope you choose to marry someone who is your friend, because marriage and life are hard, and it’s easier if you have a friend walking that path with you. I hope you find contentment in her heart and in her arms.
I hope she sometimes disappoints you so that you can learn to give grace and forgiveness like Jesus gave. I hope that you’ll sometimes disappoint her, too, so that you’ll learn to be humble and ask for her forgiveness. I hope you learn unconditional love by standing by each other through anything that life throws your way and despite any personal sins and struggles you face. I hope that you will learn to struggle together and not against each other.
I hope you’ll learn to see past her external beauty to the woman that lies beneath and cultivate her heart and soul like a tender gardener –and not like an army general trampling everything in his path. I hope you view her, not as a project to make her like your mother or your ideal woman, but as a gift from God that should be cherished and protected for what He made her to be and wants her to be.
I hope you take her for long walks and long car rides and talk about everything. I hope she’s not only your wife and your lover, but your very best friend.
I hope that, while you see her as your helper, you understand that you’re her protector, and that in protecting her you’ll sometimes have to help her. I pray that you’ll see your role as a husband, not as the dictator of a small realm, but as a servant to all who God intrusted to your care –like Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, may you humble yourself and serve your wife being willing to even die for her.
I pray that you don’t expect perfection, and that she doesn’t expect it from you.
I pray that you’ll pick a woman who understands that God put the husband in charge of the family but a woman who also will stand up to you when you’re wrong, who will pray you back to God when you’re struggling, and love you no matter what.
I pray that she would honor you with her actions and her speech. I pray that you would never use your words to tear her down, that you’d never speak ill of her to others, but that you’d build her up.
I pray that you’ll seek peace in your marriage –but not at the expense of truth and right.
I pray that you’ll turn to scripture for your answers, and seek outside help and counsel from godly people when you need it. Believe me, you will need it.
I pray that when you hurt, you’ll turn to her for comfort; that when you mourn, you’ll mourn together and not let heartache become a division.
I pray you’ll put a priority on your relationship and stay away from anyone who would drive a wedge between you –even if it’s family.
I pray that you’ll have the joy of growing old together, still walking hand-in-hand even when those hands are old and weak and wrinkled.
I hope you start with a job that requires menial tasks and hard labor, so that you learn that value of a day’s work. I hope you learn that God made us for work, that it existed before the fall of man from the very beginning of the earth, and that it should not be despised.
I pray that you’ll come home from a hard day’s work with sweat and sore muscles but with the satisfaction that you honored the Lord with your life that day by giving your best.
I pray that you won’t let my inactivity due to my illness give you the impression that it’s okay not to work. I pray that your father’s example of hard work will counteract my inability to work. I hope you understand that we both do our best, but our best looks different because of different abilities.
I pray that you’ll be willing to do what’s necessary, even menial jobs, to care for your family. I hope you surrender your job and financial situation to the Lord, knowing that ultimately it is He who provides work, food, clothing, and lodging. I pray you’ll be content with what He gives even if others have more, knowing that what He has for you is best.
I pray that you won’t get so caught up in work that you ignore the important things: things that have eternal souls.
I pray that you won’t pursue wealth, which brings with it all kinds of troubles and draws men away from God. I pray that you’ll have just enough money to know God’s not abandoned you but little enough so that you don’t abandon Him.
I hope you remember that providing for your family is more important than following your dreams and interests; if you can do both, wonderful, but if not, family comes first. I pray you’ll remember to balance your rights and responsibilities: the Bible teaches that we have responsibilities while our world teaches that we have rights. I pray you’ll make sure you focus more on your duties than what you think you should be allowed to do.
I pray you’ll have children, not simply because I wish to have grandchildren (you know I do), but because there’s no joy like looking into the face of a newborn baby that was brought about by the love and commitment of two people. I think the greatest moments in my life were the moments when I first laid eyes on you and your brother.
I pray that a baby will alter the way you see the world. I pray that you’ll take the responsibility seriously and soberly.
I pray that he or she will teach you to cherish the small things, to be amazed at the wonders of God, and be humbled that God entrusted this small soul into your care.
I hope you figure out that you don’t have it all figured out and that parenting isn’t as easy as you thought it was before you had children. I hope you learn that all children are different and have to be trained individually.
I hope you have a child who challenges you so that you can learn gentleness, patience, long-suffering, and compassion. I hope you have to repeat the same instructions five times because the child is distracted with a toy, so that you learn what it must be like for God when we don’t listen and obey, and that you copy Him by giving grace.
I pray that you find yourself in awe and amazed at this child, in wonder of the greatness of God, and falling on your knees pleading for God’s wisdom when you don’t know what to do with him. Sometimes, you won’t know what to do with him.
I hope you’ll start praying for that child and the child’s future spouse even while the baby is still very little –like I did, knowing that prayer changes things and we all need all the prayer we can get.
When you’re angry, I hope you’ll pray for him, because it’s hard to stay angry at someone who you’re praying for.
I pray he’ll grow to a strong man for the Lord, able to withstand the attacks of Satan and this world– which is the same prayer I have for you and that I have prayed many times over the years.
I pray that you’ll begin when he’s very small to tell him about Jesus and train him in the way he should go.
I hope you peek into his bedroom at night to watch him sleep, grateful that God let you be his parent, as I have done so many times.
I hope that this little soul will make everything else in this world seem less important, because you’re focusing on eternity now.
I pray that you realize that sometimes family drama is more about what God is trying to teach you than what the child is doing that annoys or irritates you.
I hope that you’ll know heartache and pain so that it may drive you to your knees and to the God who has the right to give and take away.
I pray that you’ll ask why, but that you’ll find your answer, not drugs or alcohol, but in the Lord –the only One who truly can give peace in a storm.
I pray that you hit rock bottom, and that when you do, you find Jesus there –like Joseph in the pit, like Daniel in the lion’s den, like Stephen at his stoning; it’s all part of God’s plan.
When things go wrong, and they sometimes will, I pray you’ll have confidence and comfort that it’s all part of God’s plan that will ultimately work out for good even though you can’t understand it or see it, that it’s good because God’s good and He can’t be anything but good.
I pray that you’ll surrender your life, your family, your job, your very breath to God, knowing that you can’t fight His plan and being bitter about His choices will only make you miserable.
I pray that you’ll have wisdom to see what you can change and what you can’t, that what you can change you will, and what you can’t, you’ll trust to God’s care.
I pray that you’ll know Him in His suffering, because it makes everyday a little sweeter and the anticipation of heaven all the more wonderful. I pray that the things of this earth you’d loosely hold, knowing that they are distraction from the spiritual when we get caught up in them.
I hope that you’ll be willing to get help –whether medical or otherwise– when you need it, regardless of any social stigmas associated with your choices. I pray that you’ll understand that even the unpleasant things of life –like mental illness and chronic illness– are all part of His glorious plan.
I pray you’ll find joy in the small things, peace in your marriage, and fulfilment as a father. I hope you maintain a testimony to those around you even in the hardest of circumstances. I pray that –if it comes to it– you’d be willing to die for your faith, standing tall and proclaiming God’s love even in the face of death.
I pray that you’ll serve not only your family but God’s people, that you’d continue to grow in your knowledge of Jesus long after I stop teaching you, that you’d choose scripture to be the final authority in your life.
I pray that you’ll find a church that’s biblically sound where you can serve, or if you cannot, you’ll start one if your own –even if it’s just your family in your house.
When in doubt, ask yourself if God would be honored by your life if you did this. Above all, seek to honor God with your life.
When I’m gone, remember my love for you, my prayers for you, my devotion to the Lord. May my life be a light pointing you toward God. May my strength and resolve be a legacy for you and your children. You’re stronger than I am: if I can do this, you can do this.
You are my legacy. You are my masterpiece. You are my life’s work. All else in my life pales in comparison to you, because you are eternal. I have poured my heart, my soul, my life, and my strength into your life. Make it a good life, a life worthy of His calling. You honor me by following Him.
You’re forever in my heart.