I was in the lobby at church, last Sunday, and I talked to a dad very briefly. He had a little one, less than a year old, in his arms. He also had three others. And I said what I say to a lot of parents, ‘they grow up fast.’ They do. It’s cliche but it’s true.
When we were in Brigden I preached a sermon one time that had something to do with discipleship. I said something like Danny, our oldest, is nine years old…we are about half way there. She’s eighteen now and if everything goes as planned, she’ll be away to school in September.
And it’s at times like this that I can’t help but type with tears trickling down my cheeks. I wish I would have been bigger on grace in their lives. I wish I would have preached the gospel to them more. I wish I would have spent more time with them. I wish I would have been less pre-occupied with self and with ministry and would have listened better and had more fun and taught them more things, like how to skate…that was my job which I neglected. (Bonita’s job was to teach them how to swim and they both swim well!)
But I did do some things okay. I was Mr. Mom in Guelph, while Bonita was the sole bread winner after graduation. I did have lots of time for them, particularly in Brigden. We read together and went to kids things together and I told them about Jesus. We grocery shopped together and I visited people with them and we prayed together. As my understanding of Jesus and the gospel clarified, I tried to clarify it for them…and I try to continue to do that.
I’m working afternoons for this week and next and that means I drive Nadia to school at eight and Danny at noon. And the other day I asked them both some clarifying questions on the gospel. I think they have grown to be some pretty discerning young theologians. They can often smell when something preached isn’t quite right. They may not be able to put their finger on it but they often know that something smells fishy.
 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 ESV)
Bonita and I have sought to do this. Sometimes late at night, often Bonita, and sometimes on the ride to school or over the mealtime or wherever. But it takes a community of faith to influence a child and we’ve had that.
Paul wrote this about Timothy:
 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. (2 Timothy 1:5 ESV)
But young Timothy was not just influenced by his grammie and his mamma. Paul spent two letters and I’m sure a lot of hours influencing Timothy.
The girls have had some good Sunday School teachers and good family friends, male and female, to assist them on the way…to build them up in the faith…to correct them…to encourage them. It does take a family to raise a child but they also need a supportive community of faith. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 is so clear on everyone playing their part in the body.
We had a young couple at church for the first time after the birth of their newborn on Sunday morning. It was fitting that in God’s sovereignty, we were in Ephesians 6:1-4, a word for parents and children…and for the church as a whole.
My hope and prayer is that when our girls go away to school, the discipleship will continue…from fellow believers and Sunday School teachers and elders and deacons…from the whole community of faith.
I wish I could be with them to hold their hand but I likely won’t be. My hope is that we have done reasonably well, despite the flops and failures, to be clear about the gospel road.