Sunday, January 15, 2017

To My Unborn Son

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.

the letter
As my own teenage years drew to a close I began to contemplate them. I held them up in my mind and turned them hither and yon. I examined my choices, and what the potential impact of those choices might yet be. I compared them with some friends of mine, and where I thought our differing choices would take us in life. Somewhere along during that period I made a decision to write a letter to my son. My intent was to guide him into making good choices as a teenager himself. So the day I turned twenty I sat down at a picnic table and wrote my yet unborn son a letter with some advice for navigating his own teen years well. I decided to give it to him the day he turned fifteen.

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
This moment is sacred to me. I'm sitting on a picnic table by the lake at Hyles-Anderson College. Today is my twentieth birthday. A few months ago I decided I would sit down today and write to you some of the things I've learned in my first twenty years, with especial attention to what carried me through my teenage years.

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.

51 Brennans_5980
Lastly son, base your decisions on the future and not the present. I've heard Bro. Hyles say, "Everything in life that's worth getting you pay for now and get later, and everything in life not worth having you get now and pay for later." Solomon said, "But afterwards." Son, when you decide to do something always remember those two words "But afterwards." Don't sacrifice the future on the altar of the immediate, rather sacrifice the immediate on the altar of the future.

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.



  1. Stellar stuff , sir. I wrote letters like this when my children were toddlers, and they have yet to read any of them. Unfortunately I sealed the letters and I don't really remember what I wrote, so I suspect I repeated myself a lot.

    1. They become sort of a time capsule when you look at them again. I am sure your children will value them very much.