I sat down with my oldest son (Ryan – 21) yesterday and discussed: “Developing and maintaining your relationship with God”. We are on vacation in Destin Florida and this trip has allowed Ryan and I to have some true quality time. He gets up early and comes out on the balcony where we drink coffee. I came out with a couple of nuggets of understanding that I need to get down.
- This guy knows God. He is at Texas A&M University currently, a junior. He told me that I would be amazed at the lack of morale and care that students regularly exhibit at school. I ‘m sure I would. I hardly went to college. I got a degree, but never lived a single day as a college student – he is. I’m glad for it. I wanted him to get out there and (mentally and physically) leave home. He told me that he thought that he would never be looked down at for being a Christian, that has changed. He told me that there is no throttle on most of the students, anything goes. I didn’t ask for examples, scared at what he’d tell me.Then he told me about his roommate, a bright atheist. How this kid always tries to get into philosophical arguments with Ryan. This is when the light came on, the reality of where my son is in his heart, a knowing of what soil he is building his life on. Ryan would tell this guy, “I don’t know why, I just believe. I can’t explain it, it is just my beliefs”. What Ryan was telling me is that it is difficult to have all the answers of the “whys” when your heart believes so much in something. He couldn’t give his roommate fuel for an argument he so badly wanted because Ryan couldn’t even explain it to himself, it was just a belief, a faith in God, a knowing without doubt in your heart. I was beginning to understand that was he was saying was proof of what I had prayed for since all of my kids were small: “When they grow up and leave, the most important thing in their life is for their parents to have instilled a love and value for God in their lives, to understand that a relationship with Him is not only important, but the highest priority.”
Does Ryan have issues, yes! He is not perfect. He struggles just as you and I do, but he values a relationship with God and desires to share that with others in a real way .. not just with words, but with his life. This was more than about making Dad proud, this was about a young man struggling with knowing what God can mean to you in your heart, and seeing the emptiness in others that have no idea.
- I asked Ryan his thoughts about daily quiet time with God. What he said really made me begin to challenge my thoughts. His response was along the lines of: “What is the reason for the quiet time if not to take God into your day? You could raise the priority of daily quiet time so high that it becomes an item on your checklist. Check it off and go on without allowing God into the rest of your day. What is more important is asking yourself if the quiet time you are having is impacting your interactions with others.”He understood that having an intimate relationship with God is never in a social vacuum. God desires to change you so you can have an impact for others. God is always about others. Is daily quiet time important – yes! As always, we need to always remain balanced though. We need to allow ourselves to be changed to be more like Christ so that we can bring Christ into our relationships.Ryan is about relationships. He values quality time with another person more than anything. He understands:
- that telling someone about a relationship with Christ is next to useless if you are unwilling to invest in that person’s life.
- that words are low-cost, investing in someone’s life is expensive
- there is little value in telling someone about Christ without desiring to get into their life and be there when they are hurting, caring about them, understanding them
- you need to have the right to instruct someone in how to have a relationship with God. If you do not have a relationship with that person, then it comes off as “better than I” attitude.
In sitting down with my son yesterday, I came away with more than he realizes. I learned about the importance of investing in other people, even when it is inconvenient for me. Ryan owns this .. perhaps that is one of the reasons he has “compassion” tattooed on his arm. I have a lot to learn from others, and it is incredible to sit down with my oldest son and be completely blown away that I can walk away and learn so much from someone whom I have trouble keeping up with how fast he is growing up. I have a very different relationship with Ryan now, and I didn’t really understand it until yesterday.