Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Some suggest that the engine for the too frequent train wrecks in the lives of pastors’ kids is the fishbowl they must live in. In their local churches they, more than their peers, are watched, judged, measured. It is an unwelcome, indeed unwholesome attention. When your father is a widely known and deeply respected theologian you carry some of those same challenges. The Lord offers then a number of different options. One can rebel in protest to the inequity of the attention. One can become adept at disguising ones sins and maintain the appearance of godliness. One can labor to meet the expectations of others. Or, one can rest in the finished work of Christ alone, confident of the unchanging love of one’s heavenly Father.

For more than a year now I have found myself living in an increasingly glaring spotlight not just because of whom my father is (he is, among other things, a man that would want me to know to use “whom” there, rather than “who”) but because of the hard providences sent by my heavenly Father. I have exacerbated that scrutiny by choosing to write about my experience via sundry internet outlets. It has been a profound encouragement and comfort to me to hear from others who have been blessed by my pieces. It has, in turn, been a great comfort and encouragement to hear from others how they have been praying for me and for my family.  I am grateful.

You could, however, if you are willing, help still more. It is important to me that these hardships not become my identity. I hate to think that when I cross your path you think, “There goes that poor man who lost his wife and daughter.” Not because they don’t matter, but because they do. I wouldn’t mind at all if you thought, “There goes that blessed man who so loved his wife and daughter” so long as you remember, “who so loves the seven children that are still with him.” Or, better still, “There goes a sinner, saved by grace.”

You could, if you are able, not look for the third arm of holiness. That is, while hardships are most assuredly sanctifying, they don’t turn us into weird creatures who are visibly, nor even spiritually different from the rest of the body. I am, most assuredly, a sinner. I can still be petty, impatient, self-involved, even frivolous. God is growing me in righteousness, but I am still a pygmy.

You could, if you are willing, find a fitting balance, as I try to do, between sympathy and normalcy. That is, don’t be surprised that I’m a little more sad, a little more shy, a little more distracted than normal. But don’t treat me like a Faberge egg, like someone too fragile to laugh at a joke, even one at my expense. Don’t be afraid to talk to me about Denise or Shannon. Neither be afraid to talk to me about something other than Denise or Shannon.

Finally, you could, if you are able, help me by studying hard on the lesson behind all the lessons. That is, in my writing on my mourning it is not my desire to prepare others to mourn. It is not ultimately to protect or spread the biblical doctrine of the sovereignty of God. It is instead two-fold. First I want you to love your wife, husband, father, mother, children more fully, more intentionally, more gratefully than ever before because second you rejoice in His saving, redeeming, resurrecting, glorifying grace more fully, more intentionally, more gratefully than ever before.

God rest ye merry.