Monday, June 22, 2009
Considering Pentecost as a model for sending out adult children, we should take note of the particulars of how God set it up.
First and foremost, God initiated it. His people had just witnessed His unfathomable sacrifice for them at the Cross, and they were His, heart and soul. He gave them something mysterious to consider and time to think (but not much - remember there were only 10 days between Jesus' ascension and Pentecost. See Acts 1:1-3).
Pentecost was a notable event. There was no doubt that there had been some real ending and beginning. God did it with heavenly pomp and circumstance. His people were inspired, empowered & sent out.
Both of these characteristics of God's send-off should inform our send-offs. It is vitally important that parents initiate the send-off. There should be nothing of sons seizing power before their time, or usurping parental prerogatives. Release must not be a forbidden fruit; if it is, the road to healthy cooperation between the generations will continue to be a rocky one for many years.
You might want to compare the Fall with Pentecost. Scripture indicates that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was to be a sort of graduation present for when mankind had come to maturity. It wasn't going to be forbidden forever. The problem was that Adam seized it before both the maturity and the commissioning. Satan introduced the temptation long before Adam would have thought of it and long before he had enough experience to cope with it. So instead of a glorious commissioning, Adam received a curse in the very area where he sought independence and his relationship with God was broken past repair.
But Jesus makes everything new. He made a radically new relationship with us, and gave us a second chance to come into maturity and into full partnership with God. In fact we do see God at Pentecost sending out the young Church a little before her full maturity. At Pentecost, were those disciples able to face persecution and martyrdom? Did they really understand how to build a lasting organization? Or how to sculpt an appeal to the barbarians of Gaul or the philosophers of India? Probably not. But because of the ongoing relationship with the Spirit established at Pentecost, that group was able to succeed in all of those areas.
So we mustn't delay release indefinitely. Better far to send out a young adult a little before he is totally ready to whup the world, while he still maintains a good relationship with his parents, than to delay release until he has checked every box and has developed a resentment toward his parents that will cripple him in years to come. The relationship will supply the youth with the resources and perspectives that will help him fill out the deficits as he works. But a resentment leaves the youth only with the checked boxes and no ongoing inspiration.
So we release them. And it feels like we will lose most of our vital connections to them. Life will never be the same. It's true. But after they fly away, full of the joy of their youthful strength with the wind of our blessings under their wings, a mysterious new chemistry begins to operate.
At Pentecost, the disciples burst out of their prayer meeting aflame with the power and blessing of God's blessing, into the streets of Jerusalem. The result was an enormous ingathering of new sons. Not only did those 'children' who were sent out return, they continually, habitually, delightedly brought more into the family of God.
So it will be with us and ours. When our children know they have our blessing in their launch out, they return to us bringing many new sons. Not just in-laws. They bring fellow students, co-workers, Sunday school waifs, the isolated, the lonely. Your opportunities to influence and to help young people will greatly increase as your children leave.
So it's not time to sell the house and move to a 'sensible' apartment. It's time to enlarge the borders of your tent. God will be filling it with all kinds of new people, laughter, significance, relationship, usefulness. You will understand how deeply God rejoices when one of His sons brings others to Him. You will enter into His joy and a deeper partnership with Him as you (after all, one of His sons) join in filling His reunions with many new sons.
We will dream dreams. We will speak His words. We will dance.
Hear Kim's lecture on transitional parenting on Quests & Homecomings
Next time: Babel Reversed