This May and June are big months for my family. Our daughter, Laura, just graduated from college and will be starting a nursing career, here in Louisville. Our son, Caleb, graduates from high school and soon will head off to college to study aviation. They have big dreams.
On Laura’s wall hangs an acrostic prayer that I composed from the letters of her name when she was an infant. In a column shortly after our son was born, I shared why we had named him Caleb, and every time I visit my parents in Greenville, S.C., I still see that column on a dresser in their guest bedroom. Both remind me of the excitement and joy Michelle and I felt at their births. As parents, we have big dreams.
Debby Akerman, the national president of Woman’s Missionary Union and a former nurse, in her new book, “Secrets to Surrender,” highlights a key phrase in Numbers 14:24: “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”
Most parents wish for their children to become doctors, lawyers, governors, movie actors, accomplished musicians, star athletes. Laura is experiencing the anxiety that comes with a first “real” job at a hospital. At the moment, Caleb desires to become a pilot. I hope they both achieve their dreams.
But, whatever they do, what Michelle and I most desire is that they will be servants of the Living Lord. Like Paul, a slave to Christ, they will follow His word wholeheartedly, refusing to compromise their values—no matter the cost.
Greater still, we rejoice that one day they will receive the promised land, a heavenly reward, and we hope their descendants—our grandchildren, great grandchildren, and generations to come—will too.
Scripture teaches that the promises of God and blessings flow when we follow Him wholeheartedly, Akerman observes. Caleb was different from the others, who chose to disobey God. He and Joshua were the only ones who received the blessing—a land to call their own—where others had faltered. Why is Caleb remembered millennia later? In Deuteronomy 1:36, we’re told it is because “he wholly followed the Lord.”
Like any parents, we long for our children to be big “HITs” in life—to leave their marks, to make great impressions on whomever they meet along the way.
Honor—Bring glory to God; honor to your family; respect for yourself. You are a child of God, for whom His Son died to save. Dare to have a different spirit than the rest.
Integrity—Be courageous! Don’t be swayed or led astray by the crowd—or a friend. Dare to stand for what you believe in and for what you know is right. Let others see the difference Christ can make in their lives.
Truthfulness—Be full of Truth, God’s word. Live in a way that can readily be described as “all for God.” Dare to believe the Truth—live it, share it.
In her book, Akerman shares the “epiphany” of Tommy Moore, then a college student and minister at Ocean View Baptist Church in Myrtle Beach:
“Driving home from college one day, I had an epiphany of sorts, a grand realization that was as real and as tangible as an actual lightbulb going off over my head. Maybe God had called me to something great—something greater than me. Maybe God had called me—maybe God calls each of us—to join in the story of His glory, a glory that started long before we got here and will continue long after we leave.”
Moore realized that his own glory was far too small a thing to live and die for. It brought anxiety and fear about making the right decisions and of failure. Plagued with thoughts of arriving at the end of his life defeated, he worried that one day he’d conclude that he had wasted his days.
“But living for God’s glory, a much greater thing by far, involved laying down my life in complete surrender to Him,” Moore said. “I realized the only way I could arrive at the end of my life with no regrets, with no feelings of defeat or nothingness, would be … living a surrendered life that allows Him to live through me.”
Now, that’s a great graduation dream for our children—and for the rest of us: Live “wholeheartedly” for Him!