Monday, February 16, 2009
One year later
Some of you may remember my posts a year ago when my oldest grandchild, Elijah, turned twelve. If you want to read them, they are here and here.
Last week Elijah turned thirteen. His Mom and Dad planned another get-together as a follow-on to last year’s occasion, but Mrs. RWP and I were not able to be there in person this year. So they asked me to write a blessing for Elijah to be read at the occasion, essentially a Christian bar mitzvah.
Since I shared with you what I wrote to Elijah on his twelfth birthday, I wanted to share with you also what I wrote to him this year:
On your thirteenth birthday, as you enter your teen years, it probably seems to you that it has taken forever to reach this day, but to us who have been loving you and praying for you since before you even took your first breath it seems like only a moment. Nana and I have missed you and your family since you moved to Florida and we would like to be there with you more often. As you turn day by day into the Christian man we hope and pray and know you will become, Nana and I have a birthday wish for you that is more than a wish, and more than a hope. It is a prayer.
My prayer for you is not about your happiness, or pleasure, or success, or prosperity. There is nothing wrong with those things; in fact, they are good and desirable, and of course I don’t want you to have unhappiness, pain, failure, or poverty. But what I hope and pray most that you will have during your journey through life is joy. The other things I mentioned are temporary at best, but joy can carry you all the way through, through dark times, hard times, and sad times. Joy can last forever, because it is not based on some event or circumstance or thing, but on Someone, and that Someone is Jesus Christ the Lord. The prophet Nehemiah in the Bible told the truth when he said that the joy of the Lord is our strength. An old hymn that we used to sing years ago says, “There is joy in serving Jesus.” Nana and I know that you are already learning this, but old people like to state the obvious sometimes.
Elijah, life is not a piece of cake. You may have ups and downs in life, you may have highs and lows, you may have days of sunshine on mountain tops as well as dark days in the valley, and nothing we can say or do can change that very much. It is simply part of being a human and living on planet Earth. But being a Christian human on planet Earth involves something else. It involves reading God’s Word and hiding it in your heart. It involves asking God for guidance each day and listening to His Holy Spirit for direction. It involves deciding to do what Jesus whispers in your heart to do, such as loving and helping your neighbor and loving God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, with the same sort of total intensity and dedication and giving of yourself that I saw when you played football with the Sequoyah Chiefs. But we have an enemy, and he talks to us too. He tries to deceive us into thinking that his voice is the voice of Jesus and that his way is more to be desired than the way of Jesus. Jesus called him the Father of lies and said that he had been a liar from the beginning. Elijah, the better you get to know and trust our Savior, the easier it will become to know and follow his voice, just as you know the voice of your football coach and your Dad and your Grandpa. The Bible tells you to trust in the Lord with all your heart, don’t lean on your own understanding, and He will direct your paths.
I know you already know these things. I just wanted to remind you as you turn thirteen because you will be learning so many new things in the days and years ahead, and it will be an exciting time for you as you begin to discover why God created you and the purpose He has for your life. And through your whole life, may you experience joy, more and more joy, deeper and deeper joy, the joy that comes from Jesus, the joy that is Jesus Himself living inside you, is my prayer.
Another prophet named Nahum said, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knows them that trust in him.” That is part of the joy too: knowing that you know the Lord and knowing that the Lord knows you. And knowing Him brings joy to you, and knowing you brings joy to Him. That is one reason He sets us in families, to let us experience just a little of the joy that is eternal.
Your Mom and Dad asked me to write a prayer of blessing for you for this day. I am so proud of you, Elijah. I am blessed that you came into our family, and I am so blessed to have you as a grandson. You are more of a blessing to Nana and me than we could ever be to you. Here is my prayer of blessing for you, and Nana joins me in this prayer:
We pray that the joy of the Lord will always be your strength;
We pray you will always have God’s peace in all phases of your life;
We pray that you will have wisdom beyond your years;
We pray that you will have a heart of compassion and love for people;
We pray that you will have boldness to speak the truth;
We pray you will not fear speaking that truth to your peers and those in authority;
We pray that the Lord will always be your defender, your deliverer, your provider, and your refuge;
We pray that His mighty arm will clear the path before you, and guard you from every attack of the enemy;
We pray that you will find God to be a very present help in time of trouble;
We pray that you will always turn to Him in the bad times, and that you will not forget Him in the good times;
We pray that a band of angels will surround you at all times to protect you and keep you from harm and the snares of the evil one;
We pray that you will have a healthy body and healthy mind and that the Lord will give you success in all of your endeavors;
We bless you in the name of the Lord.
I just want to add, for readers of this blog, and it should go without saying, that what Mrs. RWP and I have prayed for our first grandchild is also what we pray for all six of our grandchildren.