Dear Children

Letters From A Father's Heart

Archive for the category “Life”

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” Says The Teacher. “Utterly Meaningless! Everything Is Meaningless.”

Dear children,

There was a popular bumper sticker for a while that said, “excrement happens”.   Of course, it used a much more colorful word than “excrement”, but I hope you get the drift.  It conveyed the notion that life comes at us by random chance, and that some of that random chance is not so good, and it just “happens” without any reason or purpose.   That sticker reveals a worldview that is inconsistent with the view that I hope you adopt in your short lives.

We know that things do happen to everyone in life.  So when things happen to you, the question you will need to ask is, how will I respond?  And how you respond will depend on your basic philosophy of life which will revolve around a sense of purpose.  The temporariness of our lives attempts to steal purpose.  If this life you are living right now, residing your bodies is eternal, then that changes everything.  But your body will die, and so these few hours, days and years you spend occupying it will be spent by you like so much money in your pocket; and then it will be gone.

Some will spend all of their “money” (time) in the futility of simply reacting to circumstances.  Every decision they make in life will be in reaction to external forces guided by internal desires.  For others, their purpose will be to experience thrills, sex, and adventures. And still, for others, it be spent to start and sustain a career, get married, buy a house and raise a family.  But in the end, all of these endeavors have one thing in common.  They all end in death.  All will have spent their “money”, and it will all be then be spent.

But I pray that you will embrace the only purpose that makes sense of it all.  I pray that purpose would undergird whatever kind of life you live. You must understand that the only way you can grasp this is to know that you are not merely flesh but instead that you are flesh and spirit.  While your bodies will be wasting away, you can know that inwardly you will be being renewed day by day in your spirit.  Your eyes will not be fixed on what is seen but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.  Your purpose will not be to breathe air and obey the whims of your flesh, but rather your purpose will be to do the work which God has prepared in advance for you to do.  Your goal and purpose will not be to simply enjoy life but rather to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant” in the everlasting.

As I enter the autumn of my life I understand the book of Ecclesiastes more and more which says that life is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  And no matter what path you choose, you can know that as the end draws near it will all be meaningless unless you have grabbed onto the eternal purpose that can only be found in Jesus the Christ.

I pray that at an early age you will commit to doing just that, grabbing onto Jesus with all of your might.  I pray that you will be able to defend the few hours that have been allotted you from the attack of meaninglessness that comes in the form of promises to the flesh.  I pray that as your life comes to an end you will be able to say, “I served my Lord” as you ready yourself to meet Him, and not, “I had a lot of ultimately meaningless fun”.   May our Lord grant you the ability to serve Him with steady devotion.  Amen

Your father

Read:

Eclesiastes 1

Ephesians 2

2 Corinthians 4

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I Have Food That You Know Nothing About

Dear children,

In John chapter four there is the account known as Jesus talking to “the woman at the well”. The part of the story that I like is when Jesus’ disciples return from their food-buying expedition into town. It seems that lots of things are going on around Jesus, and His disciples are worried about Him nourishing his body. But he replied to them in a tiniest of parables. He said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”   But the disciples didn’t hear a “parable”.  They heard a stated fact.  So Jesus explained, My food,” said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 

In your christian lives you will have ample opportunity to work on one project or another with your church. And you can have a great time with your church family in these outreaches or whatever.  But there will be those times when you do something, almost on a whim, and it turns out to be amazing and satisfying.  You will realize that you have just been involved in a sort of miracle, something that cannot be attributed to mere happenstance.  Here’s one of the few examples in my own life.

Many years ago, on a warm summer’s afternoon I was driving from Nashville to Chattanooga.  Just out of Nashville I saw a man hitchhiking.  Without much thought I made the decision, just as I was passing him by, to pick him up. As he approached the car I got a better look at him, and realized that he was quite scary looking.  For just a moment I contemplated peeling out of there before he could get in.  But I didn’t.

He was quiet as we drove along.  His head was almost shaved, and he had lots of scars and tattoos.  He said he that he had just got out of prison and was trying to get to Florida.  When I asked him what he was in prison for, he dryly answered, “murder” as he stared emotionless out the front window.

As we drove his eyes began to grow heavy as he fought off sleep.  I told him he could recline his seat if he wanted, but he would not allow himself that kind of vulnerability with a stranger, and I understood that.  So I was quiet.

Wanting to witness to him in some way, and being a little afraid myself, I decided to plug in a praise and worship cassette.  I thought that might at least put him at some ease in his weariness.  As we drove I began to get an inkling that I ought to buy this man some food. And so an internal argument ensued  in my thoughts about the matter.  All I had on me, you see, was a credit card, and I didn’t want him to know that I had it.  After all, I was already thinking about my plan if it turned out that he wanted to commandeer my  car in Chattanooga.  So I put the matter to rest, I would not be stopping, or so I thought.

Somewhere in rural Tennessee between Nashville and Chattanooga, on a Sunday afternoon, where businesses were scarce, most being closed for Sunday and with soft worshipful music and the lullaby of the road singing their sleepy songs to both of us, a sudden loud and continuous noise and vibration started us from our daze.  I entered the emergency lane and learned that though it was still holding air, the tire had come apart.

It so happened that we were right at an exit off the freeway, so I followed the ramp i[ tp the stop sign as I contemplated a tire change.  But as I came to a stop I saw two things that changed everything.  An open tire store, and right across the street a Golden Corral.  As far as I can remember, those were the only two businesses open.  This was a rural stretch of I-24.  It was over 20 years ago, it was on a little two lane road that happen to intersect the freeway, and there weren’t lots of businesses around.  Just these two as far as I can remember.  But what is important is the fact that I then realized that God wanted this man fed, and He was going to feed him, and I was going to be the one who did it.  That was impeccably clear to me as I rolled to a stop.

The whole experience became a wonderful one.  It is an experience that I think only a Christian can appreciate.  It was the maker of the heavens and the earth, the creator of all things, deigning to use me in his work.  I can tell you that there’s nothing like it in this entire world.  I took my car into the tire shop and told them to replace the two rear tires then I offered the hungry soul with me an all you can eat feast.  It was a special treat to watch that man eat, and to see the excitement in his eyes.

But I too was fed in more ways than a physical meal for my physical body.  I was fed by doing God’s will and his work.  And when we are fed in that way, it is better than the best of the best in gourmet feasts.  Most of us, I’m convinced, have very few opportunities like this to actually see God’s hand move.  But I am also convinced that it need not be quite so rare.  That day, I missed a golden opportunity.  Today I would have no problem to almost immediately strike up a conversation concerning the Gospel.  Then, as a new Christian I was afraid.  I don’t know why.  As I’ve introduced the Gospel to more and more hurting people it has gotten much easier to do.

That day was a blessing to me more than it was to that poor man.  He didn’t hear of God’s redeeming love from me that day, as he should have.  But I caught a glimpse of God’s sovereign hand at the price of two tires and two meals.  I have learned since then to reject, outright, the notion that the Gospel is preached without words.  There are many many organizations and people who expend themselves in alleviating human suffering.  But that’s all they do.  Preaching the Gospel is the only hope that the cause of that suffering, which is man’s unredeemed heart, will be dealt with.  Jesus said that fixing up the outside of a man was nothing more than whitewashing a tomb full of dead men’s bones.  Jesus deals with the heart through the Good News of reconciling man with God.

I pray for you therefore, dear children, as you walk through this life that you will feast on doing the will of him who sent you and finishing his work.  The field is indeed white for the harvest, so I pray that you will go forth, and reap a barnful of food that you will find eternally satisfying.

Your father

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