In this season of Easter, I have been wondering just when and how Jesus might reveal himself to our oldest son, or all our sons for that matter. Or perhaps, I have been wondering when our oldest son’s eyes might be opened to Jesus’ goodness and grace, and when his heart might be opened to welcoming Jesus for his lifetime ahead.
Our oldest is a sixth-grade middle schooler, and while this past year has brought significant personal changes in independence and maturity (albeit a junior-level maturity), it seems lacking in spiritual growth. Sure, he sometimes attends youth group, as long as a friend is accompanying, and on Sunday mornings he stands for the Gospel and the Nicene Creed. He says the Lord’s Prayer and he sings the songs, but it’s still mostly mom driving home the conversations of living a life for and with Jesus.
During this school year, those conversations primarily involve my advising to ‘remember who you are and whose you are’ as our son navigates new friendships and that unnerving desire to fit in with the crowd. I find myself reminding him to strive to honor Jesus in all that he does and says, while being fully aware that I did not strive for this in my own life until young adulthood.
I was raised in the faith and given multiple opportunities to strengthen my walk with Christ. I am most grateful for these opportunities, because I cannot say that I would have found my way to him on my own. But it wasn’t until I faced some challenging times as a young adult that I fully witnessed and understood God’s timing and promises.
In chapter 21 of John’s Gospel, resurrected Jesus reveals himself to some of his disciples as they sit in a boat out on the water, back to fishing for a meager living. This particular night, they catch not a single fish, then at the dawn of the next day, Jesus stands on the shore, calling out to them. Jesus encourages them to throw their net to the other side of the boat to find fish. Sure enough, 153 fish are caught in the net, quite a haul for these men.
This story is such a simple metaphor for acknowledging that an acceptance of Jesus as the risen Savior leads to a more abundant life, a simple metaphor for trusting that God will provide.
Simple. It’s how I am trying to keep it for my son as he finds and grows his faith, trying to keep the main thing, the main thing: Jesus loves you. Jesus loves you so much that he died for you, he rose again, he revealed himself to his disciples, and he ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God.
But I know that my son does not have an easy road ahead, simply because he is living life — living with today’s societal pressures and cultural differences. Only he can determine when his heart is ready to recognize Jesus and to call on him for guidance and grace and truth and love.
My role, though I will not give up on encouraging a faith in Jesus, is to pray — pray for the revealing for each of our sons and their wisdom to know when to listen, when to cast their own nets in the way that allows them to set all else aside and follow Jesus.
How have you encouraged the faith of tween children in your life?