Long story short…I woke up early on our summer roadtrip to Niagara falls recently, spent an hour entranced as I sat by the raw fury of the epic falls. I sat alone in the still of a summer’s early dawn, watching a pink sky touch the water’s edge and suddenly, I realized…
These were potentially dangerous waters… one slip off the edge, one misplaced footstep and you would be helplessly caught in the savage strength of one of the most powerful forces on earth… yet, so beautiful to watch. So mesmerizing for me to just watch and listen and just “be” there in it’s presence. The force of the rivers water and the massive drop below all conspiring to funnel it’s contents into a white froth. The river was turning in upon itself, transformed from a slow and wide, even graceful channel into the narrow & compressed canyon that echoed below, A deep gorge filled with foam & spray as it’s agitated water churned through the boulders at its base and then rushed off to begin the miles of slashing whitewater and world class rapids that formed the Niagara river basin.
I was struck by the parallel truth I was observing between these classic water falls and the current state of my adult kids and their lives. My daughters were now college students and Caleb was a junior in HS. It was clear the movement of their growing lives was accelerating… from predictable and casual to really busy. They were starting to gain speed as they rapidly surged through the last stages of junior and senior high… rising up into the independent adult women and young man I now knew. My little girls were focused on their college education and the joy of solo student life this fall and Caleb was/is ready for his drivers license and the freedom of a first job.
As their dad, I could sense there would be more dangerous life moments ahead, some full of beauty and strength and some filled with the unexpected turbulence and sudden stomach clinching emotional dips that were sure to be just around the next bend in the “river’ of their lives. My kids were making the transition from teen to adult and it would be every bit as spectacular to watch as the iconic water falls I was sitting next to on this bright summer morning.
I was suddenly conscious of the danger and the exhilaration of watching them entering into the thrill of the whitewater that would be college and the excitement they would feel moving out from the safe harbor of home. It made me soberly aware of the dangers that exist for them as well as the amazing opportunities for growth. The whirlpools of life would be there, risky choices that can suck them down and trap them…But I was also aware of the way in which those same turbulent waters can generate extreme energy for the benefit of many. Just like the river below me, I could see the risk and rewards of harnessing the raw power of nature and how those principles could apply to my girls. I was trusting that the years Paige & I had invested would now help them navigate well the turning rapids and threatening drops of their spiritual lives.
I prayed that morning for God’s grace to cover them and for his Wisdom to surround them on this next season of their lives. I had to let go and trust that the faith we had lived out in front of them as parents would stick and that when life twisted and turned on them, or seemed to be too rough or the water too deep… they would know where to turn.
Parents… watching our kids grow is like watching the path of a river, sometimes it’s slow and lazy… turning gently with broad & curving passages, graced with wide gradual banks on its edges. Green and Lush, covered with trees and gentle bushes, serene and inviting, peaceful. Sometimes that “nice” river will abruptly narrow to a nasty, rocky, crevice-filled slit with sheer cliff walls blocking all access and a surge of pounding whitewater pulsing and pushing it’s way faster and faster until it ends in an abrupt waterfall. The beauty and danger of our kids lives gets mixed together like a mighty river, combined into a wonderful and spectacular image of God’s purpose and potential.
I believe with Christ as our guide… life’s river ride can be the most exhilarating and rewarding adventure possible. I am confident that God is able and ready to help us as we seek to keep our kids hearts centered on the faith of our fathers and believe that the work which God has begun in our lives will be completed… and trust His grace will include my amazing children.