Some Advice For My Son

I have two sons.  And I am very proud of both of them.  Against many odds, they are outstanding young men of God.  It breaks my heart when I hear stories of preachers’ kids and missionaries’ kids who turn their back on the Lord when they become an adult.  As a missionary family, we have taken our two sons, Eric and Glen, literally around the world a few times.  In the midst of constant change, two things have remained strong:  their love for each other in the family, and their love and commitment to God.

There are so many things I could share about my boys, and with their permission perhaps I will in the future.  But today I want to tell you what is in my heart to share with my younger son Glen.  He has been interested in the military for quite some time, and in the last two years he has very much wanted to join the Canadian Armed Forces as a soldier.  Three weeks ago he got an interview and passed the medical exam.  They say they will call him up as soon as there is a position for him.

Naturally, as his parents, we are worried and concerned about what might happen to him while he is a soldier.  He may get killed.  As Christians though, we know death only leads to a better eternal life.  So we worry more about him being severely injured or psychologically scarred from his time in the military.  You can be sure that we will be praying for him every day to be physically and mentally well.

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There is one other area that is a concern to me, and that is how he will do spiritually.  When I first asked him why he wanted to join the military, he said he believed that was God’s will for him.  “Good,” I said, “but tell me why else you would join.”  And he amazed me with his answers.  First of all, he told me that someone needs to help defend the defenseless peoples of the world.  Wow, I thought.  That sounds just like what a missionary would say.

Then he went on to talk about being patriotic to his country, and the appeal of the Army being a place of camaraderie and a lifestyle rather than a job.  “And what about the lifestyles of some of the people in the military?” I asked.  “Will you be able to handle their language and their behaviors which certainly do not speak of very high moral qualities?”  And his response to me was, “But who is going to tell them about God?”  Wow, I thought.  Good point.

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And so here I am, thinking about our little boy going off to the Army.  (Even though Glen in 6′ 3″ he is still our ‘little boy’.)  I’ve thought a lot about what I would want to say to him as a good “word of advice” to him before he leaves home.  And what came to me was a quote that comes out of “The Lord of the Rings“.  Worried about the “Ring of Power”, Gandalf comes back and asks Frodo, “Is it secret?  Is it safe?”

So I’ve decided that with regards to his faith in God, I will ask Glen in coming years this question, “Is it strong?  Is it secure?”  My prayer and my hope is that Glen’s faith in God will always be strong and secure.  (Oh, and by the way, biblically speaking, ‘Christian hope’ is not just wishful thinking but is defined as “expectation with certainty”.

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To provide an image of what I hope for Glen, I am thinking of three kinds of trees in Papua New Guinea.  The first one is the bamboo tree.  It grows very tall and in large groves that have hundreds of them.  They are very secure because of their interconnected root systems and sheer number of them in a grove.  But hit one of them with a blunt force and it can shatter to pieces.

The second one is a coconut tree.  It’s trunk is thick at the base and feels as tough as iron when you hit it.  It is very strong.  But they can grow by themselves, and though they spread their roots very widely, there is very shallow soil there and they don’t grow deeply.  A terrific gust of wind has often literally blown over a coconut tree.

But there is one more tree (which I’m afraid I don’t know the name of) which is thick, tall, strong, has highly interlaced root systems, and has one more amazing aspect to it.  It grows fin-like supports at the base of the tree which make it just about impossible to knock down.  And the tree is so tough, that we had to drill holes in it before using nails or we would bend the nails.

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So I am going to tell Glen not to blend in too much with the rest of the men (like a bamboo grove) and think that he can still be strong in his faith.  No, he needs to still be involved in a Christian environment and attend local churches and try to find a Bible study group.  Even just making sure he has one other Army buddy who is a Christian.  As they say, “glowing embers burn brightly when put together, but take one out, and it will fizzle out and die.”

And then on the other side, I don’t want Glen to try to stand up by himself (like a coconut tree) and think he will be secure in his faith.  No, he needs to dig in his spiritual roots deeply by praying regularly and reading the Bible as often as he can.  Glen’s true security is being found “in Christ”.  There will be times he will feel alone, but I will remind him that God is always there, and he will never be alone as long as he abides with God.

“And so son, I love you.  And I am ready for you to be God’s man in the Canadian Army.           Go get ’em soldier.”     Love Dad