Recently, I was driving back from Indiana after dropping my oldest son off at college. It was strange driving back alone. I had multiple hours to think back over the last 18 years of parenting. I wondered, “Have we prepared him well?” He graduated from high school and was accepted into college, so I knew he was prepared academically – but I was asking other questions. Is he prepared to be on his own? Will he make good decisions? Will he make good friends? Will he even think to change his bed sheets? As parents, we want our kids to succeed; not just in school, but in life. I started thinking through all the areas that I may not have prepared my son for. Did he know how to manage money or will he be tempted by every credit card offer? Will he manage his time well or always procrastinate on his projects? And what about girls? Yeah, I told him about the birds and bees, but that’s what scares me!
As the miles went by, my anxiety level increased. That is when I felt God remind me of a powerful truth found in 1 Peter 4:8. It says, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” My wife and I are not perfect parents…none of us are. For all the mistakes we made along the way, I knew we did one thing well. We showed our son love everyday with our words and affection. Our son knew his was deeply loved by us and by God. Our son grew up going to church. I remember the first day my wife and I arrived at this small church plant meeting in a grade school back in 1996. We were greeted by a huge smile and arms that reached out to receive our energetic toddler. That love was genuine and we have seen it demonstrated over the years by countless people that are a part of our faith community. As I pulled into my driveway that evening, I was filled with gratitude to God for making church a foundation for my family. Each weekend, the church has the priveledge of sharing God's love with each and every child that walks through their doors.
God never intended us to drive through life alone. We all desperately need God and we need each other. A faith community, like the one I am part of, provides support for families and reinforces a foundation of love for our children to grow in. I encourage you to be intentional about showing love to your children and to others in your faith community. Yes, we will make mistakes and get on each other’s nerves, but that is where love is truly shown. God demonstrated his deep love for us by sending his Son to offer us forgiveness. We can do the same by extending forgiveness to others. Our children need to hear the words “I love you”, but they also need to see true love in action.
Together, we can prepare our children well by providing a faith community filled with love. When all is said and done, the Apostle Paul writes that there is nothing greater than love. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 it says, “Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.”