What makes a great life? How do we measure success? What kinds of goals and dreams define who we are?
A couple of weeks ago at church we had “graduation Sunday”. The youth band led the worship music, and the pastor preached his sermon directed towards the graduating seniors. You could almost feel the anticipation and excitement they must have felt wondering what God has in store for their futures. It was special to watch.
At one point, they played a slide show made up of photos of each of the young people from birth to the present. I have to admit, I started feeling emotional and even a little choked up watching it. We are fairly new to our church, so I don’t personally know these young people well, if at all. The reason for my emotion was the thought that in just fourteen and sixteen short years my babies will be the ones graduating. The pictures I am taking of them now at ages 4 and 2, will become memories in a slide slow. I know that seems like a lot of years to go, and maybe a little silly to think so far ahead. But the first almost five years of parenting have gone by so fast, I am convinced they are not going to slow down. I will blink my eyes and my babies will be grown. That is why I am determined to soak up every moment, savor all of the memories in my heart, and be thankful for each and every day!
That service at church also made me think about the hopes and expectations we set for our children as they grow and venture out into the world. It made me reflect on what I consider a great life for my sons. We all want our children to grow up and be happy, healthy, and successful. We want our kids to have great lives, do great things, and be great people. That Sunday I started to examine what I desire and pray for my sons for the future. I also started to look at what the Bible says about being great and see if my dreams and desires for them line up with God’s.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NIV
The more I read and think about these verses, the more I realize that they contain everything that is needed for life, both on earth and for eternity. The Lord Jesus sums it up so simply and yet so perfectly. Love God and love others!
I could make a long list of goals for my sons. I would love for them to do well in school, go to college, and love learning. They may excel in things like sports or music, or have many wonderful gifts and talents. I would be happy to see them be well liked, and have many friends. I want them to enjoy life, travel, and do exciting things. I hope they will have a job they love to wake up every day and be productive doing. I hope they marry sweet wives who love God, love them, and have lots of grand babies for me to love too!
I hope my sons grow up to be men who are full of joy, and thankful for life every day. But really, all of those things are secondary. It all comes back to the greatest commandment. Love God and love others. That’s all they really need. It is all any of us need.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34 NIV
By seeking God’s kingdom first, and loving God and people, all of the other things we hope and dream for our children will naturally follow. They may not be the exact things that we envision for them, but rather they will be the best plans that God has already set for them. How amazing that He knew our children even before we did!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:14-16 NIV
I am thankful that I have several more years to spend with my sons before they are grown. I know the time will go by faster than I would like. My prayer is that I will use every day to teach my boys what really matters in life. They can grow up and have the best grades, go to the best schools, have successful jobs, and be happy by all of world’s standards. But all of those things without loving God with all their hearts, and loving others as themselves, won’t add up to very much at all.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV
My prayers for us moms today is that we will impress upon the hearts of our children to love God with all of their hearts and souls, and to love others. Then their lives will be defined by the true measure of greatness!