Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
“I love how the ladies are all smiling, and the guys are like, ‘Yep, matching jammers.’”
This was the humorous yet astute observation from one of our dear friends and church members on the Facebook picture, posted by my wife, of our family on Thanksgiving night this year. The pajamas did indeed match; green and red flannel pants with reindeer shirts. And my wife and two daughters were all smiles; they absolutely love that kind of thing. As to the look on the faces of my six-foot three-inch bearded son, and me, the mustachioed power-lifter, my response to our Facebook commenter was, “There’s a fine line between PJs and a hostage situation.”
And yet, I would not trade these family moments for anything in the world.
There has been an utterly misguided attempt, I think, to find the Fountain of Youth or some analogous elixir through the ages. The idea seems to be that it is when we reach the peak of our youthful strength and power, we have reached the best of all ages. But as someone who has moved past the days of youth and now sees his own children getting their young adult feet underneath them, I can tell you with some confidence that these are the very best days.
I loved the days when our children were little. Being able to pick them up and cradle them was an incomparable feeling. And having the ability to put them in a car seat and always know where they were gave us a sense of security over them that I often miss now that they are working jobs and exploring the world. And if you had told me then that it could ever get better, I may not have believed it, but it really does.
Since our children were very little, we have prayed with them constantly, taught them how to apply Scripture to their everyday lives, and have done our best to instill character and a work ethic within them. In the next few years, they will likely all be starting families of their own. But for now, we are in this fleeting, golden period in which our young adult children live at home and interact with us on the best of levels.
Many of you have read me describe our nightly practice of talking to and praying with our kids. It used to be every night. Now, with all of them working, it is every night with some and two or three precious nights a week with all of them. Last night we talked finances, and all of my children are getting exceptionally skilled at managing theirs and even at understanding economics at corporate and national levels. We also talked relationships, church, jobs, cooking, and Christmas. And, as always, we prayed together about everything. And then we all hugged and the kids headed for their rooms.
My son and I will be doing a pretty sizeable construction project together soon. We all do music together at the church. One of the main openings to texts that they send us during the day is, “What do you think about…” followed by some question on any of a myriad of topics. Having young adult children who do not yet have their own families is just a super-special thing.
All of this was decades in the making. In fact, it started way back in my own childhood when everyone from my godly mother to some kind pastors to Dr. James Dobson, my dad-voice in the home, taught me to be pure and to do everything God’s way. And all of those voices sang the praises of family and faithfulness. I made it to the marriage altar as a virgin, said (and meant) all of my “I do’s,” and have raised my own family the same way. Regrets? None, absolutely none.
The world has a lot to offer these days, but much of it, to me, seems to fall under the category of “Ooooh, look! Something with lots of shine but little value!” Young people these days are inundated with the message that marriage and/or children will keep them from reaching their dreams. But if they do, then you, young man or young lady, have pretty hollow dreams. Other than salvation, God gives us no greater gift and higher joy than family, and it only gets better as the years go by.
Some advice, then, from me to you. Parents, spend lots of time building actual, enjoyable relationships with your kids. And while doing so, be genuine and consistent; kids will overlook many things in their parents, but they will never overlook rank hypocrisy.
Kids, stay pure, develop a personal walk with God, and start praying early for God to bring you the right mate to build a family with. And yet, handle your finances as if you will have to take care of yourself forever and want to be a millionaire along the way. Young people who develop their own nest egg early on are not nearly as likely to tolerate the advances of some ne’er do well.
Do not fall prey to modern, anti-family hysteria, either. You are not going to destroy the world by having children (depopulation actually seems the more legitimate danger, in reality), nor are any children that you do have going to cause any polar bears to die. And no one is as pitiful as a lonely old person who is lonely because they chose not to have a family because of what others expected of them.
How enjoyable is it when you have children, raise them, and become as tight-knit as the threads of matching PJs? It is so good that if you put a button in front of me that would erase it all and take me back to the days of my own youth, I would laugh at your pitiful button.
These are the best days.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner