The teenage years are often difficult. Our bodies are changing, we are contemplating what we will make of life, and we are constantly thinking about the other gender. We are in the process of maturing emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We begin to realize how important money is to life. We become at once both fearful and exhilarated at the thought of leaving home and striking out on our own. We make big decisions, and often make them badly. Temptation becomes more prevalent and more dangerous. Our cocoon is vanishing and the molting process is often painful.
For twenty three years I carried that letter around through numerous moves and life changes. In time, the Lord in His grace did give me a son, Jack, fifteen years ago. I pulled the letter down from the book in which it had sat all these years and gave it to him last week.
Setting the emotion of the occasion aside for a moment the letter is interesting. In re-reading it and giving it to him last week I went both forward and backward in time. Most all of what I wrote I still agree with though if I were to write the same letter again it would be much longer. Experience teaches the best lessons and I've learned a few in the intervening years. Then, too, I know my son very well now; back then he was just an idea. As all parents understand, I am both excited and fearful for him. So much of what he does, decides, and becomes in the next five years will determine the course of the rest of his life.
Several people asked me to share the contents of the letter. After asking his permission I have decided to do so. My intent is not to make you think I am an awesome father, nor am I trying to impress you with my thought process twenty three years ago. I simply want to help you, whether you are a teenager or a parent, whether you are a grandfather or a Sunday School teacher. I believe that Satan has built a world system more devilish in its temptations than at any other point in history. And he has placed our young people squarely in his sights. May God give them the courage to stand, the understanding to choose wisely, and the grace to lay the foundation for a wonderful life spent loving and serving Him.
|the lake at Hyles Anderson College|
My dear son, I do not yet know your name. I do not know where you will be when you read this. I do not know your mother's name. As you can tell by the mistakes this is not a re-copied letter. It is just me. A me that loves you although you are yet unborn. A me that has tried and will continue to try to prepare himself to be your father. Nobody special, just me, but I love you.
The most important thing I've learned in the last 20 years is that everything rises and falls on your walk with God. By the time you are old enough to get this, my life will either have risen or fallen and no matter which, it will be because I have either walked with God or I haven't. Today you are fifteen. By this time I trust you have learned to walk alone and weep w/ God. For six years now I've walked with God and what a blessed six years they've been. My life, when you read this, will have proved this statement, but you have yet to. Everything in life rises and falls on your walk with God.
Next son, I would tell you to seek counsel. As a young teenager of 14 I began to seek counsel, and in only 6 years it has saved my hide numerous times. I've gotten counsel on financial matters, spiritual matters, dating, college, friends, schedule, everything. I've talked to my parents many times, my sisters and brother, my preacher, and those who are successful in whatever area I need counsel in. Seek counsel.
If these three things "be both in you and abound, they shall make you neither barren nor unfruitful." I'm in the springtime of life. I'm twenty years old, the sun is shining and all of life is ahead of me. If you'll heed this letter, you'll be in the same position I am at twenty. Son, my teenage years are over. They ended yesterday, but the bulk of yours are ahead. May they be filled with precious memories as mine are. To that end I write.
I love you.