No Greater Joy

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John v 4)

As we move through this thing called life, we realize that it is full of moments we will never forget. So many of those moments revolve around our families. I have so many precious memories of growing up in Idaho with my parents and brothers, memories that will forever be etched into my mind. For me, today is one of those moments.

Our family dynamic is changing to say the least. Our youngest daughter is beginning her senior year of high school next week and with the current climate here in California, it will look somewhat different for the time being. Our middle daughter is beginning her senior year in college and this morning she, my wife and our youngest pulled out to move her back east for this final adventure. To top it all of, my oldest is beginning a new journey in his life moving to a new location near where my daughter is attending college.

As I watched them pull out of our driveway this morning it hit me, probably more fiercely than I care to admit, that our current family dynamic will never be the same again. Change has set up camp in our backyard and I am not sure I like him living back there. But in the middle of it all I recognized something, I am joyful! I’m excited, thrilled even that this is happening.

You may ask, how can you be so joyful over separation? So happy your kids are getting out from under your roof? Well, first of all – I raised them for this. You see we are a family that believes in fulfilling the God-ordained purpose for our lives. Now you may be reading this and that not be something that is truly important to you and thats ok, but for us – the Sargent 5 – investing our lives in things that are eternal is number 1 priority in our lives. My wife and I raised our children to put God first in everything, their time, their talent and their treasure, and to me that is the most important decision we made when we said I Do close to 27 years ago. As a result we have seen God do amazing things in the lives of our children and it is continuing as they step forward into their set of promises and purposes God has for them.

I can also take joy because they have decided to walk in truth just as good ole Apostle John wrote in 3 John 4. Although, their mother and father purposed from the time they were born that we would do everything in our power to introduce them to the call of the kingdom, they had to get it on their own. Were there some rough patches? Absolutely! Trying times? You betcha! But through it all I can say I am filled with JOY that they have decided to give their lives over to God and His purpose for their lives. Nothing gives me greater joy!

Some time ago, I came across an article that I saved in my Evernote app. On occasion I have pulled it out and read over it, have even used it in a message or two I have spoken concerning family. The decisions and choices we make as parents greatly determine the direction our children will go and in this article it looks at 12 decisions the Israelites made, while in the wilderness, and lays them out in a way that reveals how you can make sure your children will fail. What? Fail? Yes, fail. I know that sounds crazy but take it as something positive, something you can avoid and learn from helping you lead your marriage, family and children forward in faith.

If you are still reading this, and I hope you are, here are The 12 Ways I Made Sure My Children Failed:

  1. I Did Not Have Faith – When God desired to lead us into the Promise Land, I sided with the majority who felt that we had neither the resources nor the ability to accomplish such a huge mission. After all, there is safety in numbers and the majority should rule. That’s the only fair way.
  2. When Things Didn’t Please Me, I Longed for the Past – I valued the confinement of the familiar past more than I anticipated the joys of a free future.
  3. When Nobody Was There to Make Me Live for God, I Became an Idolater -Serving God was…well, serving. Work. Effort. It never became a relationship.
  4. I Blamed My Leaders When Things Got Tough -I refused to take responsibility for my own choices and actions. I didn’t ask to be born, and this little trek in the desert was hardly my idea, so why shouldn’t I put the blame where it belongs?
  5. I Made an Issue of What I Perceived as My Leader’s Mistakes -I made sure he (and everyone else) knew when I disagreed with him. The fact that one can never destroy their leader’s authority without compromising their own wasn’t important to me.
  6. I Always Saw the Bad Side of Things -When so many experiences are bad, how can you not notice?
  7. I Didn’t Take God’s Word Seriously -You’ve got to admit, some of it just doesn’t make sense. Come on! Killing your best lamb? Isn’t blood blood? And isn’t blood the whole point of the sacrifice? So if the lamb only has three legs, what’s the big deal? It still has plenty of blood. And why does our tribe have to set up camp in the exact position relative to the tabernacle every time? What difference does it make? I really don’t need some preacher telling me what God means. I can read and think for myself. Duh! You shouldn’t have gotten me started….
  8. I Expected Success to Always Come Easily -I don’t see a God who can create a universe in six days needing forty years to get me to the Promise Land. He can create the Earth by speaking words, yet expects me to walk all the way to my new home? Please!
  9. I Made Sure My Leader Knew When I Wasn’t Happy -Hey, he is the one who said God was going to tell him how to get us all to this wonderful land that flows with milk and honey. The good time he promised isn’t exactly what I am currently experiencing, so don’t blame me for talking about it. He is the one you ought to be complaining about.
  10. I Didn’t Have the Guts to Stand Up and Speak Out for God – I’m not a preacher. God never spoke to me out of a burning bush. Sure, I saw a few amazing things like water coming out of a rock, quail covering the ground every evening, rivers parting so a couple million people could cross on dry land, but does that mean I am now God’s attorney? There are other people who are better at that sort of thing. Anyway, I can’t take a chance on offending some of these guys. I’ve got to live with them, you know.
  11. I Valued the Familiar More than I Treasured the Future – With the familiar, at least you know what you’ve got. The future is uncertain and there are no guarantees. A bird in the hand is better than two in some bush that exists only in your (or some preacher’s!) imagination.
  12. I Preferred Earthly Things Over Heavenly Things – They called it angels’ food, but after a while you grow tired of that light and fluffy stuff. We may not have had a lot in Egypt, but the onion and garlic certainly livened up the cuisine a bit. But what’s it to you? Get off my back, okay? You never had to live my life, so stop judging me!

Quite a list eh? It is so vital that we make sure our decisions and choices, the direction that we are leading is insuring our children can one day bring us that joy that we started this post talking about. The joy that comes from hearing our children are walking in truth.

Keep moving forward in spite of what you are currently seeing and in spite of what others may be doing!

God bless,