Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Note to my Sons

Some Observations Concerning Joy

My sons, it is with the greatest concern, love, tender care and fatherly emotion that I write to you concerning your present and future experience of joy. I write this, not because you don’t know joy, but because I fear that at the very least, my example has not been one of consistent joy. I assure you, that the times that you have observed me in a state of anxiety or fretting has only been caused by my own sins.
I do know, having observed you very closely, with the eye of a paternal intensity not unlike a father over the crib of a badly injured newborn babe, that there are times when you do enjoy the experience of joy and there are times that you do not. What concerns me is not something that I have misdiagnosed or misinterpreted. I am no novice when it comes to my children. I have studied them all of their lives and have been keenly sensitive to every wisp and movement that affects them. Some may say that perhaps this kind of fawning observation is unmanly, or not fatherly, but I cannot help overseeing my offspring in a way that causes me to be in continual prayer, concern and care.
I feel like I have set you free to fly, but that in some ways I have clipped your wings. The kind of love that I have for you, I feel, is unusual. I don’t see it in a lot of men for their children, yet they proclaim that it is a sort of tough love that kicks the nestlings from their homes to survive on their own. Perhaps, but at least these same nestlings should be adequately trained and equipped to handle the various aspects of independent life necessary to prosper in all sorts of circumstances. In that I have fallen short, and have thereby clipped your wings. Not to worry though, because you have sprouted fine on your own, and have learned and are learning the hard way to fend for yourselves, God having slowly restrained me from gathering you under my wings against your will, you both being men of God who yearn to live free. Free from restraint, but also free from sin. It is this area that I want to address.
The times of joy that I have most often observed you, not to put you both in the same category, because you are both so different yet you do struggle with some of the same sins, are times when you are out of your ordinary element. By that I mean that you are away from home and are with those that are not your family. This is partially unfair in that we have had thankfully not a few times of delightful fellowship with only our own family in glorious discussion of the things of God, which times have sustained my life.
But having lived with you for the past few months, and that, under strained financial circumstances, I have concern for you future families. It may not always be well, as I have stated in another letter, with our economy, even though God’s economy is what we actually live under. You may often have your character tested, and this same character must be iron-clad before your family. That is what the times you are going through right now are for. There are going to be people depending on you, and you must show your wife and children that you are trusting implicitly in the ROCK, who cannot be moved.
I have observed the leak of joy from your lives, even though my observations are tainted and cannot be fully trusted, because I only see the outward man. But I do see your demeanor around your family, and that demeanor will affect the whole family. Not that you are to live for the happiness of others, but others’ happiness is often tied up with yours, and that will be perfectly clear to those others, when you are the head of your home.
So let me cut to the chase. The absence of joy often means the presence of or a struggle with sin. We are taught that in order to overcome our sins, we must walk in the Spirit. One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy, the others being of equal value. Love, peace, long-suffering, self-control, etc. As we walk in continual and humble obedience to His leadership, and submission to His will, and yieldedness to His presence, His affect in our lives will be the fruit we bear of love, joy, peace, etc. I say again, we simply cannot walk after the flesh and have joy. It is impossible, because joy is a fruit of the Spirit. And if it is a fruit of the Spirit, then it is not something that we can call up at will. It is something that we live in. My sons, walk in the spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. This is a lifelong lesson, but something that we must take up everyday and wage war about. I know that I am preaching to the choir, and to myself. Painfully aware of that in fact, but your loving Dad is thankfully, still growing in grace, and still has a fiery desire to see my sons full of joy. Don’t get me wrong, I want you to also walk in sorrow for your sins, but godly sorrow results in repentance and the resultant joy. The sorrow of the world works death.
I wish to see my boys know the full joy of the Lord, as I know that you have known. I simply want it for you more, and I want it for your future families. I want you to be overcomers, conquerors, warriors, who can lead a family to the fountain of joy. Otherwise, I feel that you may taint your offspring more than I have tainted mine. You both have strong personalities, lots of talent, leadership capabilities out the wazoo, and limitless possibilities. So….you are on dangerous ground, being heirs of pride. My sons, cast your all once again, and every day on Jesus. I am so…so proud of you both, but I must hasten to add that it is a humble and thankful response to God rather than true pride.

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