It’s Wednesday night, and I’m helping our kids get their shoes on, jackets on, and Bibles ready as we’re about to rush to church. I hustle them out the door, tell Corina we’re waiting for her in the car, and then load them into the van.
Along the way, I tell Timothy (our 7-year-old): “Watch out for the puddle in the driveway. Zip up your jacket. Open the door for your sister.” He gives me the exasperated look that smacks of a bad attitude, and I ask him what his problem is.
He lets me know: “People tell me what to do all day long. Before school. During school. At lunch. During class. When I get home. I just get tired of everyone else being in charge.”
We’re in the car now. Julia (our 3-year-old) is buckling herself into her car seat. Timothy is ready to go.
“So you want to be in charge?” I ask him.
“Yes. I want to be in charge and make my own decisions,” he tells me.
Thinking this might be a good time to wax philosophically, I say, “Well, son, that day is coming. But right now, other people are in charge, and the reason we’re in charge is because God has told us to be. God wants us to do our best to help shape you into the kind of person who can make wise, God-honoring choices on your own.”
He nods. He knows.
But I keep going.
“One day, you’ll leave home. You’ll go off to college, and no one is going to be telling you what to do every day. You’ll be on your own, making decisions. And I want you to be ready for that day.”
At this, the weariness of the day overcomes Timothy, and the vision of such independence overwhelms him. He wails. Big tears coming down.
“That makes me so sad! I don’t want to leave home!” He is hysterical. “Why do you say that? I don’t want to think about that.” Julia starts to cry too. “What’s wrong with Timo?”
I sigh, put my hand to my head, and try not to smile. So much for waxing philosophically. Now, it’s time to reassure him.
“Timothy, that day is far away, and by the time you get there – trust me – you’ll want to be on your own, making those kinds of choices.” He is comforted. Crisis averted. I make a mental note: “Don’t bring up college again.”
Afterward, Corina and I were talking about that conversation, laughing about how the thought of independence overwhelmed our son. As adults, we can look ahead to his future and can envision him as an independent young man, mature in his faith, making wise choices.
As a child, our son wants to get there, but he can’t imagine what that would be like. The very thought of being an adult scares him. There are too many unknown variables.
And then, I realize why God doesn’t tell us everything about our future. He lays out the vision of who we will be – people walking in a manner worthy of Christ, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. But He doesn’t tell us everything this journey will entail. He doesn’t tell us everything we will accomplish along the way.
Sometimes I’ve wondered why God doesn’t reveal the specific plan He has for all of our lives. Now, I realize it’s a good thing He doesn’t. We wouldn’t be able to handle it. We’d cry like an overwhelmed kid if we knew the specifics of His plans for us. We’d wonder how in the world He will manage to make us resemble Christ in so many surprising ways.
And the thought of the suffering, pain, and responsibility it will take to get us there – to form us into that kind of person… well, if college is enough to overwhelm a 7-year-old, then maybe the specifics of how we will become more like Christ over a lifetime would be too much to handle.
Better instead to listen to the loving voice of our Father, who seals us with His Spirit and promises to renew our humanity day by day as He remakes us into the image of His Son.
Better instead to take our baby steps as we wobble down the journey of life, basking in our Father’s good pleasure, trusting in His Son’s sacrifice when we fall, and leaning on the power of the Spirit to pick us back up again and to help us continue the walk.
God gives us the big picture of our future. And it’s glorious!
But He chooses not to fill in all the details for us. And that’s a good thing.
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