Wil's Birthday by Gil & Val

This was written by friends of ours in Kentucky. It motivated me so I thought I'd share it with you. If you like what you read I can add you to their newsletter email list, just let me know...

Dear friends,

Last weekend we celebrated my second son's seventh birthday. I have decided to make special landmark times in my boys' lives at certain stages of their childhood. So, for his seventh I invited my dad, my brother and his son, and some of our close friends and their sons to go camping. We went to a primitive campground with our pop-ups and swam, climbed rocks, shot bb guns, threw knives and hatchets and other men stuff. That night we cooked big huge porterhouse steaks on the grill and sat down at two picnic tables stuck together for a Viking like feast. We toasted and banged the table and made lots of noise. Then, after dinner, we gathered around the fire and all of the men had prepared a special blessing for Wil. One of them had made him a ring out of three braided pieces of metal and spoke to him from Ecclesiastes about three strands are not easily broken. Another man gave him a flashlight and talked about walking in God's light as sons of light. My father told the story of David and Goliath. His soccer coach gave him some specific encouragement regarding certain characer traits that he had observed in Wil on the field. We ended by laying hands on him and praying for him. It was a special time and I pray that God would use it to establish him in his kingdom and develop a vision for his life.

We all need these rights of passage in our lives, especially boys. The Jewish nation celebrated the barmitzvah which literally translated means "son of the law". When a young man reached twelve or thirteen his father would throw a party for him. All of the important people in his life would be there. In the middle of the feast he would lift his son up into the air and declare for all to hear, "this is my son in whom I am well pleased". From that day forward the men in town would relate to this young man as one of their own and not as a little boy. Sound familiar? Yep, God the father made the same declaration about His own Son, Jesus. This was, if you like, a right of passage for Jesus. Something special happened at his desert barmitzvah. The heavens were opened up and the Holy Spirit descended and His world and ours was forever changed!

David Elkind in his book All Grown Up and Nowhere to Go points out the lack of landmarks, signposts, and rights of passage in our generation. Once upon a time boys and girls dressed differently, did their hair differently, talked differently, read differently than did older boys and girls and adults. Little boys, for example, wore short pants until a certain age. They grew up looking forward to becoming a "big boy" one day. When the day came to put on "big boy pants" that was a landmark event, and one that had meaning. That may seem silly to our sophisticated postmodern minds but ask yourself this question: How does a boy know that he is a man today? When he can legally see an R-rated movie? When he can buy beer? Boys need to be able to look forward to certain milestones in their life but we have removed many of those. Today, young children dress just like little adults. How hard is it to find a decent, lady-like (sorry for not being pc), modest dress for your daughter? Now I know why the Amish dress like they do. Maybe I'll grow a beard with no mustache and start wearing homemade clothes and driving a black van myself. They do happen to be the happiest people in America you know.

I don't think that we all have to become Amish but surely we can creatively revive some sensible "rights of passage" for our own boys and girls. We all need a point of reference to know where we stand and where we are going. I remember peering over the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time. I couldn't begin to take it all in. I had no frame of reference for something that big and because of that it was actually a bit disappointing. I felt like I was merely looking at a postcard. But, the next day, when I strapped on my backpack and began to descend into this vast maze of rock and sand I began to get a real feel for the beauty and immensity of this wonderful place. I began to meander around the canyons within the canyon and I began to notice the changes in the rock strata and the plant life. On top it was like winter and as we descended we passed through spring and by the time we reached the bottom it was summer. I now had some landmarks and signposts to help my pea-sized brain to take it all in. In the same way, our children need some concrete way of navigating through this Universe that we have brought them into. They need to be able to know where they stand, know where they have come from and where they are going. They need something to reference, something to compare themselves to or life is just too much to take in all at once.

Wise parents can help their children by letting them be children when they are children and giving them some signposts along the way to help guide them into mature adulthood. This might be their first gun or bike. It might be being allowed to decorate their own room. Maybe it is getting to stay up later or having the weight of certain responsibilities placed on their shoulders. Try to think of ways that you can help your young person get excited about becoming an adult and accepting the responsibilities that go with it. I hope that after this weekend Wil finds himself more grounded in who he is as a boy. I also hope that he has been pointed toward manhood and finds himself excited about gaining the wisdom and skills that he will need to succeed as a man in this world. I hope that he has some landmarks to guide him down God's ancient paths into His perfect will for Wil!

When I finally conquered the long grueling climb out of that hole I sat down on the edge and watched the sun easing down in the west. I was able to relax and take it all in. I had a new perspective and I could appreciate just how grand was this canyon. If we provide the proper perspectives for our children they will sit on the edge of manhood or motherhood and look out over the edge with confidence-the confidence which comes from knowing who you are and where you are going and, most importantly, that God is with you wherever you go!

"And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."



No comments: