By the time this letter arrives, you will have stepped a little closer toward the threshold of adulthood and be in a position to throw open that door and step out into the world of many possibilities that lie at your feet. My natural instinct is to pull you back in and slam the door shut tight. But such is the natural progression of life, and the time has come when you must go. Still, I can’t help but think that it is a big, bad world out there. You’ve heard it said that only the fittest survive. Would you get eaten alive?
Today, I feel drawn to Scripture that speaks of remembering and not forgetting. Moses, for one, seemed especially inclined to include these themes in his farewell address to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land. There, by the edge of Canaan, Moses told the Israelites that they were soon to part company. He told them to remember everything that God had done to get them thus far. He told them not to forget to obey God’s commandments when they start anew in Canaan. At one point, Moses told the Israelites, “Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to your forefathers to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deut 11:8,9).
Somehow, this passage gives me comfort and encouragement. Although your journey through the wilderness of this life has been short, I must not forget that many times along the way, I’ve caught glimpses of the lessons you were learning. Nevertheless, I do have a list of concerns.
Safety will remain Number One. It’s a concern that never goes away. It was there when you started preschool. It was there again when you went off to elementary school, and again in junior high, then high school... You get the picture.
But there is one experience I must not forget. It was a winter’s evening in your freshman year of high school. You’d signed up for a physical education class at the community college to fulfill your graduation requirements. The sun had already set a few hours earlier when I drove you into the dimly-lit parking lot. Although the gymnasium was located just around the corner, I could not see if there was a path to the building that seemed to me was cloaked in a blanket of trees and shrubs.
Scanning the quiet campus for a security person, I asked, “You want me to walk you there?”
You lifted your head and surveyed the scene before you.
“No,” you answered, “I can pray.”
Even so, I have other concerns. How, for example, would you manage to pick your way through opportunities that come your way as you maneuver the next phase of your life’s journey to go on to the next, and the next one after that? And if, for instance, you could narrow each difficult decision to five choices, how would you know whether to pick (a), (b), (c), (d), or (e)?
You could probably confirm that it’s a concern that never goes away. I remember this incident at the start of your senior year of high school. As you worked back and forth on the scheduling to fit all of the academic courses you needed into a six-period day, you were also under great pressure to give up one of these for jazz ensemble.
But one evening, I overheard you speaking into the telephone.
“I was praying, and it wasn’t even an issue at all!”
If this were a Top Ten List, my next concern would rank high. In a culture where absolute truths rank near or at the bottom of the pile, how would you feel your way out of the morass of confusion? If what’s morally right or wrong depends upon a society’s definition at a particular time, how would you not get caught in this current and be swept out to the sea of a multitude shades of gray?
Actually, from my parenting corner, I have observed that you are no stranger to matters of right and wrong. Perhaps I really ought to be comforted that you adhered to and championed principles of classroom ethics while you were in high school. But when you step through that door, your fights will not be about the temptation to scrap together English papers from study guides Few, if any, of your fights will be won because you chose to read an assigned book from cover to cover.
Yet I shall not despair. In fact, I shall be encouraged. As He did during the first phase of your life’s journey, the Lord Himself will go before you and be with you: if you need to be carried, He will carry you; if you get lost, He will show you the way you should go; and if you must fight, He will fight for you. The Lord our God is an awesome God, and there is none like Him. Only remember to love Him with all your heart, and do not forget to listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. If you do, you will be walking in faith toward that day when—though you may have arrived at the end of your life’s journey—you will be assured that just beyond the river, there awaits your soul the Promised Land of the New Jerusalem. There you will be safe and secure in that place where the glory of God lights up the city infinitely, where God wipes away every tear, and where nothing and no one impure will be. So be strong and courageous.
Written as a mother would to her child, “Letters from Mom” addresses the struggles of our young people as they step toward the threshold of adulthood. This column hopes to encourage, comfort, and urge the youth to continue living as children of God. Please send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.