Last weekend, with Father's Day approaching, my computer screen was rocked by this message from several thousand miles away:
"Hi, Dad, I need some help! I feel terribly unsettled - a bit aimless. I battle to understand whether it's my divorce, loneliness, job boredom, or the undercurrent of crime and violence in this country. I could set new goals and try rebuilding my business. But I don't have the confidence in myself, other people, or the country to make this commitment. Not good. So, why not just pack up and go! Not so simple. If I failed to find a job overseas I'd have burned my bridges here. What do you think? And, by the way, happy Father's Day!"
I replied: "Hi, son. Among the many things I've loved about you through the years, is that you're always ready to talk things over. Even when you don't have problems, I like the way you just e-mail me or hang out on the phone.
"With your latest e-mail, I can't resist asking whether it was really meant for me or for your heavenly Father. Either way, there's plenty of support available. First choice, God.
"In college, some of your friends used to think I was a 'religious fanatic.' And what I liked was that you still spent time with me even though I would risk boring you by referring to Jesus' message that the same God who created us can be trusted with the essentials of our lives. He said, 'Set your mind on God's kingdom and his justice before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well' (see Matt. 6:25-34).
"Let me remind you that ever since you were a little boy, you've thrived on challenges. You survived boot camp and a serious accident in the military. You went on to college and got two degrees despite those months spent in an army hospital. You became a fiercely competitive triathlete. You found a job test-driving high-powered cars in Japan, the African desert, and the Austrian Alps.
"Now you're facing another test, which might just be the biggest challenge of all, but the finest opportunity yet for growth - spiritual growth. Steady advancement in your understanding of God.
"And if you don't feel quite ready for this kind of testing, I've got a good supply of safety belts for you - all from the Bible. For example, as a runner, you'd appreciate this one: '[God] broaden[s] the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn' (Ps. 18:36).
"Taking bold new steps into any venture, at home or abroad, is a bit like the efforts of a young bird to peck open its shell. It can't stay in the shell - not when it's time to grow. I'm sure you'd like an 'all parts and service' warranty that never runs out. And, you know, that's possible, when you sort out your relationship with your heavenly Father first.
"You'd soon discover that you're not really alone. Never divorced from Him. Always gainfully employed in His plan. Eternally at home in your Father's love, strength, purposefulness, peace. These are fundamental spiritual truths you can claim for yourself and enjoy. And they will help you measure life's achievements, not by the love you receive but by the love you give.
"If you meet this year's challenges the way you met those tests in the Army, at college, and in fast cars, you would be a wonderful example for other people, too. And if you ever find yourself doubting, try this for reassurance: 'It is the Lord who directs a man's steps, he holds him firm and watches over his path' (Ps. 37:23).
"Happy pecking. And don't worry. With you as my son, I'll definitely have a great Father's Day!"
If our petitions are
sincere, we labor for
what we ask; and our
Father, who seeth in secret,
will reward us openly.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor