“Truly, I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 18:3-4
When my first-born son was growing up, I put a great deal of emphasis on teaching him independence. The analogy I used with him through the years was that of an airplane coming in for a landing.
'Think of the landing strip as your 18th birthday,' I told my preteen. 'My job as your father is to make sure you land on the runway as an independent adult, ready to go out into the world.'
Through the years, my son understood that he would receive more freedom to make his own choices as he made his descent. At times, I wondered if I was worthy of parenthood. Should my adult son ever wish to share about some of his experiences growing up, you will understand why I felt like a failure and why I feared that he may never make a successful final approach.
My motivation for teaching my children independence comes from one of my first visits with my own dad after my parents' divorce. One of my sisters asked, "dad, how do you set goals?"
"I just wake up in the morning and see what happens," he answered.
After the divorce, my father moved often, always further and further away. We were lucky if we got to see him at least once a year, never more than an hour per visit. My father's statement did not match up with what I was learning in my self-help books.
No wonder my dad is the black sheep of his family, I thought.
My sisters looked up to me. I knew the pain they were feeling inside because they missed our dad so much. I didn't know how to reconcile everything I was learning about goal setting with my father's ideas. His comment haunted me all my life as I set hundreds of goals, always pushing myself to attain more and more.
It was not until my conversion experience, that I began to see wisdom in my father's words. The Bible teaches us about becoming dependent on God for everything. Slowly, I learned to let go of my independence so that I could let God be in charge. The one thing I had trouble letting go of was the money. It is similar to what many people experienced during the "Great Depression." Once you start making money, you want to hoard it for fear that another depression may come along. I became very good at hoarding money.
My son had a smile on his 18th birthday. "Dad, the plane landed. I'm 18 now. I found the runway."
Someday, my children will read these blog messages. As they pursue their independence, I pray they learn that the landing strip they seek may not be the one the Creator desires for them. What happens when that airport becomes fogged in or when the plane has engine failure?
Each morning, I wake up not knowing what God has planned for me. I ask Him for directions. He gives me everything I need to get through the day. I no longer fear when the Captain tells me we are changing course. As my father once said, "I just wake up in the morning and see what happens." With God as my pilot, I know that wherever the plane lands, I will be at the right airport and it won't matter if I arrive without any baggage.