It is my funeral. My family and friends have gathered to pay their final respects. Songs of praise have been lifted. Scripture has been read and prayers have been offered. Now it is time for remarks. My children go to the microphone. They are going to talk about their father. What will they say?
My goal is to live my life in such a way that when my children speak of me, after I am dead and gone, they will be able to say at least three things about me.
I know my father loved God unconditionally. Many obituaries state that the deceased “accepted Christ at an early age.” But there is no further evidence that the person knew or loved or trusted God. I do not want this to be my testimony. I want to live in such a way that it will be obvious to my children that I love God. This requires more than reverence in worship on Sunday morning. It calls for a life of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ on a daily basis. It demands cross-bearing. It requires forgiveness, generosity, and holiness. Of course, I know that I do not and cannot live out my faith perfectly. No one can. But I want my children to be able to say that I was headed in the right direction. I want them to see that my spiritual priorities were in order. I want it to be evident that I was seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. I want my children to be able to say that I loved God unconditionally.
I know my father loved my mother unconditionally. There are many theories and techniques for effective parenting that are promoted. Many are them are pure foolishness. I rarely hear one of the most important keys to effective parenting promoted: healthy marriages. Ironically, many people who have made bad decisions in life blame it on what their parents did not do right. They point to their difficult upbringing or dysfunctional family life. But we do not hear enough affirmation of the power of family life when it is done right. That is, when it is done God’s way. I want my children to know that I love their mother. Only their mother. I want my children to hear me affirm my love for their mother. And I want them to see it in how I speak to her and treat her. Above all, I want them to grow up in the security of my faithfulness to their mother.
I know my father loved me unconditionally. I feel like the man who said, “Before I had children, I had three parenting theories. Now I have three children and no theories.” Indeed, there are times when I feel like my children are teaching me as much as I am teaching them. I confess that I do not have all of the answers. It is a trial and error process for me. But there is one thing I am determined to get right. I want my children to know that I love them unconditionally. This does not mean that I will always agree with them or that they will always get their way with me. But it means that I will be there for them. I will provide for them. I will point them in the right way and forgive them when they go the wrong way. I will pray for them and encourage them. I will point them to Jesus Christ. May the Lord help me to live for my children’s benefit and for the glory of God, doing whatever love requires – be it tough love or tender love.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. – Psalm 127:3-5