Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Reminded of the Process

This weekend was quite telling for Pam, my beloved, and me as we watched the shadow of an approaching empty nest, if God wills, looming towards us whilst we move along in this life. In some ways it seems like a two-sided emotional blade.

Our eldest son, after a very brief visit home (mostly to do laundry and say hi), returned to his post as a senior camp counselor for the next eight weeks. Additionally, we received a good report on our middle son who is three weeks into his seven week stint on the staff of another camp whilst my wife and I, at home with our youngest but very much maturing son, are watching our children grow older.

On the one hand, I long to have more time to hold my beloved and enjoy her, and her me, without feeling that grabbing a date together or stealing away for a cup of coffee or glass of vino is a really good thing that may somehow be at odds with engaged and present parenting. More time... this is good.

On the other hand, however, we already feel some of the pangs of grieving as our relationship to our boys, increasingly now young men, is changing and will change to a state dominated by absence rather than presence. This season of life is also good (healthy) but clearly tainted with sadness, too.

In some ways, we pushed this boat of this subject out from shore last year (Click here for context). However, this weekend I’m reminded that emotional and spiritual progress – in the context of real life- is more often a process – not an event.

Emotions are complex and the human soul is deep. What I make peace with today can surface again as I purpose to grow in and surrender to the will and way of Christ. In fact, am convinced that the process of surfacing, submitting, re-surfacing, and submitting again is absolutely necessary if I am going to grow within the kingdom of God.

Dallas Willard once said, “The organ or instrument of spiritual knowledge is obedience”. This merits unpacking in the context (Click here to stream or download 29 May mp3) of his talk; however, it is fair to say that obedience demonstrates faith and is irremovable to the growing in Christ. And, in my experience, continual submission is a process that involves my will, as well as, the work of God the Holy Spirit “who is at work in you (plural yet includes the individual) both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”(Phil 2:13, NASB)

So, the mixed bag of happiness/sadness, joy/grief, and future hope/progressive loss is welcomed but the sadness and joy are felt and move me to pray for the continued grace to embrace the process, grow in Christ, love my wife, and see our “three young men” continue becoming men who love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength and demonstrate that love in the context of Christ’s kingdom.

In closing, here are two parting passages. I’m certain you can add more.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4, NIV)

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21, NIV)

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