In the years after my wife and I were married, we were blessed with three wonderful children. During this time, we were lovingly referred to as the Jackson 5. In time, our three children were each married; and I suppose we then became the Jackson 8.
Thereafter, our tribe increased again as the Lord began to bless us with grandchildren. And now, over the last two days, we have welcomed our fourth grandson. This most recent addition has brought our total number from the Jackson 11 to the Jackson 12. Now, any way you look at it, that is an increase of just under ten percent in nine months. (Would that my investment accounts had performed so well in that same time period!)
If you think I am brimming with pride, you should see my son. He has a grin on his face the size of the Grand Canyon! Last night, as we sat and talked, he reiterated what he had already told me once before – the fact that, with the birth of his first child, his life is now changing forever!
“You know, Dad,” he said, “I have been so blessed in life. The Lord gave me a wonderful family and home in which to grow up. When the time was right, I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Later, as I grew up, I finished school and got to go to college; and I was then given the opportunity to pursue a career in something I absolutely love doing. Later, in God’s perfect timing, I met the most beautiful girl in the world; and she eventually consented to become my wife. And now, God has given me a son to carry on our family name!”
I acknowledged all he was asserting. But it was clear he was not done. He continued: “At every juncture along the way, as I have lived my life, I have had to face changes. And now, with the birth of my son, I know my life has changed once again – only this time, it has changed in a way that it has never changed before.”
“You see, up until now, my wife and I have pretty much done whatever we wanted to do. We have gone wherever we have wanted to go, and pursued whatever we wanted to pursue. For us, that has meant going wherever we wanted to go on vacation, or driving whatever type of vehicle we wanted to drive, or even living wherever we wanted to live, etc… “
He went on: “For me personally, that has meant that whatever I wanted, within reason, I just went out and bought it. If I wanted a new tool, I went out and bought it. If I wanted a new piece of hunting gear, I just went out and got it.”
At this, he paused. And then he said: “But now, we have this precious little life that God has entrusted to us. Now, we have the responsibility to protect him and to provide for his needs and to see that we raise him up in the fear and admonition of the Lord – just as you and mommy did for me. From now on, the needs, concerns, and well-being of our son all trump our own wishes, desires, and choices. That’s a pretty heavy thought, you know?!”
I agreed with him; and then let him know that I affirmed him in his conclusions, as well as his commitment to learn to become less focused on himself and more sacrificial on behalf of those whom God had entrusted to his care.
As I did, I was reminded of a story that I referenced in a blog post way back in October of 2010 titled “A LIFE THAT MATTERS”.
In 1805, while somewhere near the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains exploring the vast expanse of wilderness acquired two years earlier in the Louisiana Purchase by President Thomas Jefferson, Captain Meriwether Lewis of the famed Corps of Discovery made the following journal entry on what was his thirty-first birthday (August 18, 1805):
“This day I completed my thirty-first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this sublunary world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the happiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now sorely feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended.
But since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought and resolved in (the) future, to redouble my exertions and at least endeavor to promote those two primary objects of human existence, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestowed on me; or in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself."
Ironically, my own son turns thirty-one on his very next birthday. At pretty much the same juncture in life, he too has reached pretty much the same conclusion as did the famed Meriwether Lewis – which is to live in the future for others as he has heretofore lived for himself!
I suppose I now owe it to my son to tell him that I too went through just such an epiphany. It was the births of him, his sister, and his brother at roughly the same juncture in my own life that drove me to similar conclusions.
I also trust that, if our Lord tarries His return, and my son lives to see his own son come of age, marry, and have children of his own, that the day will come when my grandson reaches these same conclusions on his own and then shares them with his father (and my son).
If and when that day comes, I hope my son has the same sense of satisfaction that I now have. For when all is said and done, most all of us protect and provide for our children in order to help them mature to the point that they are autonomous and can stand on their own two feet. But even more importantly, we do so in order that they can begin to glorify their Lord and Savior by learning to live a life of sacrifice on behalf of others.
The simple truth is that we are never more like Jesus Christ than when we give of ourselves and sacrifice on behalf of others. After all, as is recorded in the New Testament Gospel of John (chapter 13, verses 34 and 35), Jesus Himself once said: 34“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The type of love Jesus referred to here is neither friendship love (“adelphos” in Greek), nor marital love (“eros” in Greek), nor even parental love (“storge” in Greek), but rather Godly, sacrificial love (“agape” in Greek).
It is the same sort of love the Bible references in that most famous of Bible verses (John 3:16) wherein we are told: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Like Meriwether Lewis, my son is now onto something – that life is more about us living on behalf of others than it is about us living on behalf of ourselves. As the Bible makes plain, just as Jesus gave all He had to give on our behalf, may we learn to give sacrificially on behalf of others!