A Letter to My Daughter: Time to Build
Once again, the following is a letter to my daughter, mostly of things that have been on my mind as of late pertaining to christianity. Not important enough to be strewn all over the front page, but if you’re inclined to read, click below.
You’re still not potty trained, you’re slowly learning how to share, and you crack mommy and daddy up :-). And despite my best efforts at slowing down time, Baby #2 is fast on his or her way and you’re growing up so quickly. You’re at an age now where you can communicate what you want/don’t want, and your likes/dislikes. For example, yesterday in the car, I began to sing along to one of your songs and you said, “아빠가 노래 안할까 please” (Dad, please don’t sing). That was cold; but at least you were polite about it. With you at this developmental stage, I’ve been thinking, praying, and asking God to help me be a good father and here’s a letter I’ll be reading to you when you’re older about things God has been revealing to me as of late.
By the time I read this to you, I hope these might be out of style, but there are these things called Crocs:
Daddy doesn’t know fashion, but daddy thinks these are the opposite of aesthetically pleasing. But for whatever reason, they’re incredibly cute on kids. Even more inexplicable, are these things called Jibbitz:
They are decorative attachments that go in the holes of Crocs. You are fascinated by these things, especially the princess ones. In fact, older kids get weirded out because you stoop down, stare at the jibbitz and start pointing out characters you know. Since you have a pair of Crocs (for the record, they were hand-me-downs), I decided to get you your own jibbitz so that you wouldn’t get inadvertently kicked in the face. Turns out these things cost more than $3 a piece! Sorry to tell you this, but you’re never getting jibbitz (I really hope I didn’t buckle and get you some).
In fact, there are going to be a lot of things you’re not going to have (once again, I really hope I didn’t buckle and buy you these). We don’t plan on getting you a cell phone, but we realize that in case of an emergency, it’s darn near impossible to find a pay phone now, so either you’re going to be the annoying kid in school who always asks to borrow someone’s cell phone or you’re going to have the most basic cell phone ever. That’s right. You’re going to be the only kid in middle school still using a Firely. Trust us – it’s for your own good. You might think people who whip their smartphones out at every opportunity to show off apps or make themselves look important are cool, but in the adult world, we call those people d-bags (ask daddy what that means later). Second, you won’t have a DVD player in the car, even on long road trips. Kids at school might be perplexed when you tell them this, but you are actually allowed to have this thing called a conversation with other people in the car. What a concept, right? Third, you won’t have a boyfriend until daddy learns how to operate a firearm or do Brazilian jujitsu a computer or a TV in your room, and it probably won’t be your own room either since mommy and daddy can’t afford a McMansion.
You might think these things are unfair, especially since all the other kids at school have these things, and you may think your parents are incredibly cheap (guilty as charged) for not investing in these things. But contrary to what you may think at this point, those things aren’t very important and they don’t last forever, which is why mommy and daddy don’t invest in those things. Cell phones are actually built not to last, and they typically conveniently break just after the warranty period has ended and your contract isn’t quite over yet so that you have to renew the contract with the same sucky carrier. People buy new cars all the time – we won’t however. That’s right, our 2009 Sienna, which is totally awesome right now, will be yours when you can drive. Don’t worry about the kids laughing at you; it’ll build character. Boyfriends can be shot or made to tap out TVs and computers become obsolete at an alarming rate. So what is worth your investment; what is important, and what does last?
The Bible says
10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. – 1 Corinthians 3:10-15
One important thing to remember in life is that no matter who you are or what you do, you are constantly investing and building something in your life. Since there are so many people and things in life you can invest in, it’s important to consider how you build.
The Apostle Paul says that “no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” I’m sure I’ve taught you this lesson by now using Lego’s, but the foundation is of utmost importance when building: if you have a weak foundation, it doesn’t matter how awesome the things you put on top are, you’re building is going to collapse. And building/laying the foundation isn’t very fun because 1) it’s usually hard work and 2) no one really appreciates it. Trust me – no one has ever come over our home and said, “Wow! You guys have such a beautiful foundation! It’s so….sturdy!” The great thing is, the foundation is already laid: Jesus did all the hard work, so if you believe in Him, you’re saved.
And sadly, this is where some christians stop. They accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and don’t invest in anything or anyone. No wise person ever lays a foundation and doesn’t finish the building – if they do, they either ran out of money, didn’t think things through thoroughly or they’re dumb for having spent so much time and resources without finishing what they started. And trust me, God is no fool. Jesus didn’t lay the foundation to simply have us sit on it and wait to get to heaven.
Not only is it important that you build, but it’s important that you build something that will last. People could criticize the church (and they usually do), but fact of the matter is, despite all the follies in church history, there are many people around the world who are reading about the escapades of Moses, Abraham, David, Jesus, and the Apostles to this day. Clearly, their lives had a lasting impact because they built with what Paul calls “gold, silver, costly stones,” rather than “wood, hay or straw.”
What are the gold, silver and costly stones vs. the wood, hay and straw? There’s a lot of differing opinions on this, but I’ll say it simply as the wisdom of God vs. wisdom of man. Put another way, to build with: “What God says,” vs. “What I think.” Now, some people, like dad, get into big trouble because they “think they know what God says.” I’m going to try my best to teach you out of the Bible, but I’m fallible, so you’ll also have to ask God yourself. But to varying degrees, wisdom of man usually finds its roots in the pursuit of pleasure, fame and power, whereas wisdom of God always finds its roots in the Scripture. I know that’s a bit obscure, so hopefully, I’ll have this hashed out a bit further by the time I read this to you, but for now what are some things Scripture teaches? To honor your mother and father 😛 not to covet, to forgive, to avoid harlots (don’t worry – this one is more for your brother(s) if you have any), to be thankful, to care for the poor and needy, even selling your own stuff to do so, to carry each other’s burdens, to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.
The other thing to note is that exam time is coming and you will be judged for how you built. I hope you take after mommy more than daddy because I am a procrastinator. Actually, let me tell this another way. You see, daddy had this friend in college–let’s call him Pop–who used to skip classes all the time. Even though he had the syllabus and everything, he didn’t really study and keep up. When exam time came around however, he studied like mad to catch up. On exam day, he basically jotted down formulas and other garble from the textbook that showed that he at least read it somewhat, and he often barely passed. Dadd,,,errrr, Pop used to hate the studious kids in class because they would bust the ever important curve and they never ever looked stressed.
Did I…I mean, Pop, make it through college like all the other studious kids? Yes…but barely. I made it, but I wasn’t necessarily proud of it. I mean, Pop wasn’t proud. And this is exactly what Paul is talking about when he says, “he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” If you only believe in Jesus, you’ll be saved and get to heaven but you’ll be like Pop and barely make it and probably won’t be proud of it. If you build well, you can look back at your life with pride and joy.
I think heaven is overrated. Sure, it’s going to be perfect, but Jesus didn’t lay the foundation for us to sit around living in the lap of luxury only to attain even greater luxury in heaven. According to Paul in this passage, being saved isn’t the reward; the reward is a life well lived. A life that impacted many people for the better. Will you be like the studious kids and rejoice at exam time, or will you barely survive?
So remember, things aren’t worth investing in; people are. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you are constantly impacting those around you. That’s as simple and mundane as repulsing them with your body odor or as profound as an act of kindness. So remember, kiddo, you’re building something with your life – make it good.
P.S. No, you can’t have an iPad Nano, for your birthday. Stop asking.