This week my daughter turns 3 and in 10 years, she will be a teenager. That time will fly by, 10 years ago WhatsApp and Instagram were not around, Avatar was setting Box Office records and Barack Obama was 4 months into his presidency. About that time, I was speaking to a colleague about having kids and she said bluntly “I am not having kids, why would I want to bring kids into this world?”.
Some times I despair as a parent because of the horrors I see and hear every day. I mourn when I see kids robbed of their innocence by the evils of this world and I realise that try as I might, I cannot protect my kids from these things, only God can. More and more, kids are struggling with depression, self-worth, identity, self-harm, anorexia, bullying, peer pressure, homelessness, abuse, etc. These things are driving them to suicide and robbing them of their futures. I have always wanted kids but I am reminded of my colleague every time I am confronted by these horrors and I can understand her convictions.
As a father, my only recourse is to pray for and with my children daily. I have found on my pilgrimage of faith that following Jesus is the best way to combat the challenges of life, because if He is who the Bible says He is, then He must know best how to navigate life. I have subscribed my kids to my blogs in the hope that one day they will read them because what I desire most for them is that they learn God’s word and get into a real relationship with Jesus from a young age. I hope they start being truly interested and inquisitive about their faith much earlier than I did. I know that if I had made Jesus preeminent in my life, I would have made different choices growing up and avoided some of the negative consequences my choices brought.
Sweetheart, I hope I’m around in 10 years to help you navigate your teens but there are some things I hope you know deeply before then. Firstly, your value does not come from money, fame, power or looks, they are all transient so don’t put your trust in them. The King eternal who made the heavens and the earth, and continues to sustain it [Hebrews 1:1-3] determines your value. His love for you compelled Him to die for you because He didn’t want heaven without you. He has adopted you as His daughter [Romans 8:15] and no one else, not even me, can value or love you more.
You are the daughter of The King, behave like it and pursue godliness. However, living a godly life may cost you friends and experiences but you will never regret living a God honouring life. If you are going to follow Jesus you have to keep yourself pure in thoughts, words and deeds. This means there are going to be movies you can’t watch, songs you can’t listen to, places you can’t go, people you can’t associate with, things you can’t say and so forth. It will be difficult at first but it gets easier. I know by experience that it’s hard to change an ungodly lifestyle, just don’t go down that path. God has equipped you to live a godly life, the Bible says this: “His (God’s) divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him (Jesus) who called us by His own glory and goodness. [2 Peter 1:3 NIV]
Choose your friends wisely. They will have a significant impact of your relationship with God and your future because those closest to you will be your greatest influences, they will either drag you down or pull you up, therefore be wise in choosing them. Wisdom comes from God, so read His Word. Create a routine for yourself that enables you to read your Bible over and over again and study it like nothing else in your life. The Bible may not make you rich or famous, but it will make you wise and you need wisdom to navigate life. These dying words from Paul to Timothy continue to hold true: “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” [2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV].
Remember, God has always loved you unconditionally and His greatest commandment is that you love Him back and love others. Knowing this must govern how you live. You cannot love God if you don’t love people [1 John 4:20]. Love is a verb, not just a feeling, so show love by serving others because this is how you become great in God’s kingdom. But, don’t forget that love must be restrained by truth and truth must be spoken and acted upon in love.
Finally, following Jesus is a lifelong quest. Every day, you must resolve to follow Him. As an old prophet once said: “He [God] has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” [Micah 6:8 NIV]. More than anything else, I want to be a good role model for you, just like Paul was to Timothy. I am not perfect, neither are you but don’t worry, God has made provisions for our imperfections. When you fall, and you will, remember that God always forgives us when we sincerely ask Him to; it is His kindness that leads us to repentance [Roman 2:4].
I pray I go ahead of you and with my last breath I can say like Paul “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” [2 Timothy 4:7 NIV].