“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
One of my most valued treasures is a list authored by my son, Eric, entitled “I Am Thankful For…” It dates back to 2002, when Eric was nine years old.
There are many amusing items on the list including snakes, bugs and monkeys. Why anyone would be thankful for snakes I don’t know, but at nine years old, Eric, apparently was! Other items on his list were quite admirable for a young boy…love, life and family. What moved me most deeply though, was his listing of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and topping his list…God. The list had fifty things that my nine year-old was thankful for and God ranked higher than toys, video games, TV and even his girlfriend!
I was reading his list tonight, and while it brought tears of joy to my eyes, it also made my heart heavy. You see, Eric is now 22 years old and he is not a believer. Honestly, I’m not sure where he stands. We are very close and talk often, but I can’t quite wrap my head around his belief system. He’s not an atheist or an agnostic. He believes in a Creator, but as he says, not necessarily the same one I believe in…the same one I spent his entire childhood teaching him about.
So, I just don’t know where my son stands when it comes to God. As a Christian, this is a very hard pill for me to swallow. I have gone through the first four stages of grief over this matter…denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, but have yet to come to the last stage, which is acceptance.
Truthfully, I will never reach acceptance when it comes to Eric’s eternal destination and until I take my dying breath, I will share with Eric, the loving, merciful, saving God that I know. What I have reached, however, is surrender. I know that, aside from “walking the talk” in my own life, this matter is in the Father’s merciful and loving hands. John 6:44 tells us that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them to Him. So, I pray that God convicts Eric of his need for Jesus and I do my best to live my life in a way that points him in that direction. I believe it was St. Francis of Assisi who said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words when necessary.”
Eric is a very logical young man. He has Asperger’s Syndrome and this is a common trait among “Aspies.” I call him my “Little Sheldon” (The Big Bang Theory) and his father refers to him as “Young Spock,” so that gives you an idea of how Eric relates to the world. He takes everything very literally. For example, one day while giving him a driving lesson he was traveling 25mph on a 65mph road. I told him it was unsafe to travel so slowly and that he needed to keep with the flow of traffic. He promptly informed me that the road sign says “Speed Limit” not “Speed Minimum.”
Faith comes hard for Eric and these days, unless you can prove something to him with facts, he can’t seem to wrap his brain around it. That said who better knows a creation than its creator? God created Eric and knows every intricate detail of his genetics. He knows how Eric thinks and He knows EXACTLY what it will take for Eric to believe. So, I surrender. That by no means is saying that I give up. Waving the white flag takes on a different meaning when it’s God you are surrendering to. I have just finally come to fully understand that as much as I love Eric, God loves him even more.
I am grateful that my parents instilled in me a strong belief in God. Looking back upon my own life, there was a period of time during my teenage years when I wavered in my faith. I never stopped believing in God, but my relationship with Him and my spiritual life were definitely relocated to the lower end of my priority list.
I don’t know what my spiritual life would look like today had it not been for the solid foundation of faith that was laid by my parents. Knowing that gives me a renewed sense of hope for Eric because, based on his gratitude list, I am confident that his foundation is rock solid.
So this Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things…my relationship with Jesus, being raised by godly parents, and most of all, enough faith to surrender my Little Sheldon’s spiritual well-being to his Creator.