Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 26

What I Read Today: Luke 16 & 17.

What Stood Out About What I Read: Luke 17:22-30, “Then he said to the disciples, ‘The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. Then people will say to you, ‘Look, there he is!’ or ‘Look, here he is!’ Do not go out or chase after them. For just like the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage – right up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; but on the day Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be the same on the day the Son of Man is revealed.'”

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

On most of my students, their default setting is set on “prepare for college.”

And on most of the parents, their default setting is “find a way to pay for it.”

Let’s start with the basics: Most parents love their children and want the best for them. Defining “the best” is where parents get sideways.

See, the way it’s supposed to work is that a student will excel in academics or sports or band or some sort of extracurricular activity and reap a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. This will allow the student to get into a good university. This, in turn, will allow the student to get a good job. This good job will allow the student to buy a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and have nice children. These children will need to prepare for college. These parents will then have to find a way to pay for it.

And I’ve seen parents lose themselves in this preparation. I’ve heard parents say things like, “You can go to Bible study AFTER you’ve finished your homework.” The set up a false dichotomy between Bible study and homework. Why not make the choice between homework and SLEEP/ You’d be amazed at how efficient a teen will get when those are the choices.

I’ve seen parents spend hours on-line, checking their student’s grades every day. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why a parent would want to get wrapped around that axle. They worry and stress and nag their children failing to realize that all these things aren’t good for their own selves, much less the damage to the relationship they’re doing with their kids. I’ve had high school teachers tell me that a parent will take time off work to get a child’s grade changed from a 91 to a 93. Colleges even have meetings with parents of incoming freshmen to tell them not to contact their child’s professor directly. You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

I’ve seen parents say things like, “God and being with His people is the most important thing in this family.” Then they spend untold amounts of money to travel for tournaments because college scouts will be there. They pay $400 a month for a private coach. They can’t get to church for 6 weeks because these are the most important tournaments this season. One parent did all that and the “scholarship” amounted to one year of “walking on,” a second year where they paid $1,000 for books. A third year where they paid books & tuition. Final year was a full scholarship. A grand total of about $30,000 over 4 years. That same parent said to me that if he’d spent about $15,000 per year of high school on camps and travel and all that so he joked that he got about half his money back. Then he told me about how his son’s spiritual life fell by the wayside his junior & senior years in high school and he didn’t recover until his junior year in college.

My point is this: You cannot serve God & money. And just take a look at all the things that a focus on something like trying to get a college scholarship will do to you. Let’s not even get into our own personal retirement plans and the current state of the economy or anything like that, okay?

Now, I’m not saying that we did everything right as parents. But we were committed to the idea of making our children’s plans for post-graduation from high school a spiritual decision and not a financial one. My profession doesn’t allow for a monthly saving plan for college tuition, and we told both our children that they need to seek the Lord as to what happens after they get their high school diploma.

There was prayer. Lots of it, and I can’t tell you how much prayer their was the last three months of Kid1’s search. There was an expectation of small group attendance. There was an expectation of church attendance. There was an expectation of Sunday School attendance. There was an expectation of service in our church as well as missions opportunities outside our church. College was viewed as a place to prepare for whatever it is that you see yourself doing for The Kingdom (well, Kid1 viewed college as the natural next step. Kid2 has a different approach and college is one of many options for after high school–but the process is the same).

In Kid1’s case, there was crying. There was a lot of waiting. A lot of letters with good news and more forms to fill out–almost overwhelming to the point of paralysis. There was a lot of discussion about what God could possibly be doing. But ultimately, prayers were answered in very strange ways. But all along the way, the discussion was to seek first His Kingdom and trust that He would prepare. Even though it ended where we thought and hoped it would at the beginning, I think we all grew in our relationship with Him in the process, too. As much as I’d like to say it was all my kid that grew, my guess is that Tracy and I were learning an awful lot about Him and ourselves, too.

And all of the things that cause parents to get sideways is the focus on money and not God.

It’s where we all get sideways.

But let’s be honest here: The Beatles were right about Desmond and Molly Jones. You know. Ob-la-dee, Ob-la-dah, Life goes on…Rah! Brain worm for the day officially inserted. You’re welcome.

Life does go on, like it did in these chapters.

We go about our day-in, day-out lives with our day-in, day-out responsibilities, with our day-in, day-out results…

…and the reality is that The King is going to come back. Says so in the verses that stood out. And we could be ill-prepared for it. Life will go on. They will eat. They will drink. They will marry. It’s all happening all around us all the time. They’ll eat. They’ll drink. They’ll buy. They’ll sell. They’ll build.

Life will go on. Rah.

But instead of focusing on the temporary…

…we’ll be doing ourselves and our children a greater service to prepare them for the day our King comes back. And live our lives if we really believe that rather than an ideal that won’t really happen. There’s a balance of trusting God and doing the next thing, to be sure. But all of it needs to be done in light of eternity.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors (that I may just put on a t-shirt one day), Douglas Coupland in his novel “All Families Are Psychotic”–which, as an aside, kind of ties into today’s entry, doesn’t it–: “The only valid viewpoint for any decision is eternity.” Brain worm inserted for today. You’re welcome.

Eternity.

Not money.

Because they simply don’t mix.

(Tomorrow’s Reading: Luke 18 & 19)

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