I can’t believe my baby, my eldest baby, is celebrating her last day of school today. Well, there’s still college ahead, and she has yet to make that decision final… *insert shameless plug for Christ For The Nations Institute here* …but she will be leaving home in just a couple of months.
Tomorrow I will watch her stand before her peers and give a speech as the valedictorian of her class, encouraging them to follow after their dreams. I will celebrate as I watch her walk across a stage and receive her diploma. I will probably yell something embarrassing and make a scene, because, well, that is who I am and she will expect it.
As family and friends gather to congratulate her afterwards at her reception and during dinner, I will be there a proud father on the outside, and full of a storm of emotions on the inside raging from elation to fear and sadness, and we will look at each other and smile in the celebratory moment and I will know she is feeling the same.
She’s not only my little girl but one of my best friends. I know God has amazing things for her and I know this is all a part of life… but in a moment of being vulnerable as both a man and a father, let me tell you, I’ve never seen joy and sadness fight each other on such a level playing field as they are right now. Excuse me… there must be something in my eye… maybe my allergies are kicking in…
We were having one of those “father/daughter, how important the future is” conversations just the other day, and I remembered back to sending her to Haiti when she was 16 years old. I asked her if she knew why, though everyone thought we were absolutely nuts as parents to send our beautiful 16 year old daughter to summer in Haiti, we did it. I’m sure she had many answers yet she sat there silent. I told her it was because we knew one that God had a plan and purpose for her and would protect her. Two, we hoped it would break her heart for the nations of the world, the lost, the hurting, the poor, and the defenseless… the least of these… and it did… and three… because we knew she would one day make a difference… somewhere, somehow…
And now it’s time to watch her go again, yet this time not to return, but to find and fulfill God’s plan for her life… here she, and many young adults this time of year across the nation, stand poised to choose. The choice to just aimlessly live life, the choice to choose to take the avenue of personal success and live for themselves, or trade their lives for their destiny and allow God to use them to impact the world around them, or even the world as a whole.
I chose the latter much too late in life. I don’t honestly know the direction she will take and that is scary as a father. I don’t know if my own interpretation of what that looks like is truly God inspired or just hopeful. I don’t know how many wrong turns or missteps she will make. I just know she’s growing up and the choices and consequences are now in her hands… and I can only trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to lead her where he wants her to go.
She tells me she is called to the nations. She tells me she dreams of bringing Christ to the most unreachable people. She tells me where she wants to go, and they are places I know the danger of… and I am OK with that. As long as she is in the will of God I’ll rejoice no matter the cost.
I love you with all of my heart little girl. You make me proud… and you will continue to regardless of where the road leads, if it is paved or filled with rocks and bumps… now go change the world!