It’s Fleeting, Son

Every young parent hears it. It goes something like this: “Enjoy these years with your kids, it will go quick.” Its not that I didn’t believe them when they told me; it’s just that I didn’t realize how fast quick is!

Our eldest received his diploma last week. It was a sad/glad moment. It was time for him to leave high school (glad). But I also know that means the day for him to leave home draws nigh (sad). Is he ready? Have I prepared him? What lessons have I forgotten to impart? These are the questions that go through my mind as I watch him walk into the stadium in cap, tassel, and gown. When his row stands, I raise the camera. I want to capture the moment. The sad/glad emotions well up again. As he approaches the stage to hear his name, shake the hand, and receive the scroll; I whisper the questions again: Is he ready? Have I prepared him? What lessons have I forgotten to impart?

In addition to his, I sat through two other graduation ceremonies this spring. I heard some thoughtful speeches by class speakers and valedictorians. As I recall, their messages were similar: appreciate the past, enjoy the present, and embrace the future. There is nothing wrong with that; just that the platitudes some times had too much sugar. But as I sat there, I was haunted by those three questions: Is he ready? Have I prepared him? What lessons have I forgotten to impart?

I am a proud father of a gifted son. I thank God for him every day and like Job, plead that God would forgive and watch over him (Job 1:5). I know his weaknesses and sins; I am familiar with them. Many of them are mine; unintended lessons from me.

But those questions, what of those questions? There are fewer opportunities now. He won’t be at our dinner table as much. He won’t be watching the game from the couch with me many more times. I won’t hear the ball bounce on the backyard court that much longer.

What is it I want him to know? Where were the holes in our parenting scope and sequence? Without looking for it, God answered at least in part these mulled questions; doing so in my devotional reading. I’m in the Psalter right now. It was Psalm 39’s turn to be read. The answer came in verses 4-6:

Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man’s life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

As he ushers out, the great big world before him; I want him to know how fleeting it all is. The money, the job, his health, his life; everything—all of it will quickly pass. If he remembers this; he is much more likely to live the kind of God-honoring life God-honoring parents pray for.

And when his son graduates some day; I hope my grandson knows how fleeting life is, too. If he knows, it means I probably got to that one more lesson.

Pastor Rich Hamlin

June 16, 2011