The Barbarian Way - Part 2

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Barbarian Way - Part 1

Ready for Part 2? Here it is:

The author story:

For several years we rented a two story house in Los Angeles. A unique feature of the house was that a small window from the second-story bathroom opened a path to the roof. I always figured there would be a day when one of my kids would climb up on the sink and work his or her way out of the ledge. It just seemed to be one of those things that I would have done when we were kids.

Early one evening Kim and I were in the front yard when we heard a little voice calling for us from the roof. As soon as Kim saw him, her nurturing instinct kicked in, and she started commanding him to get back inside. I have to admit I was kind of proud of him right then, but what he did next totally surprised me.

Looking past his mom, he asked me if he could jump. When Aaron shouted, "Dad, can I jump?" Kim answered on my behalf, "No, you can't jump. Get back inside."
As if he hadn't heard anything at all, he asked me again, "Dad, can I jump?"

Now I know what I was supposed to do. A dad is never supposed to override the mom (I'm working on it). I'm just telling you what really happened. After all, he did ask me.
I answered, "Yeah, go ahead."

He said, "Really?"
I said, "Yeah, sure. Go ahead and jump."

Kim looked at me as if I was out of my mind and asked, "What do you think you're doing?"

In a short of explanation I asked Aaron, "Aaron, are you going to jump sometime?"
He said, "Yeah, I think so."
I said, "Okay, I'd rather have you jump now so if you jump and break your legs, we can take you to the hospital." It made perfect sense to me.

He responded, "Dad, do you think I'll make it?"
I said, "Oh yeah, you'll make it." If I knew one thing for certain, it was that he would reach the ground. I just wasn't sure in what condition.

He said, "Okay. I'm going to jump."
I had one suggestion before he took off. I said, "Hey, buddy, try to clear the concrete and land on the grass. It's softer."
He thought that was a good idea, stepped as far back as he could on the roof, and began running to jump.

Just before his first step he yelled, "Dad, catch me," and I said, "I'll try."

And he jumped.

I almost caught him. It was so close. He just slipped right through my hands. I think I did slow his fall a little bit. In either case, he's recovered well since then. I'm just kidding. He was fine. (Don't try this at home.)

I know it's very unlikely that you will ever invite me to speak at a parenting conference, but from the parenting end, I've seen far too many kids raised in Christian homes who are indifferent to Christ and often carry a great disdain for the church. Sometimes it's the result of blatant hypocrisy, but other times it's the result of nothing less than sheer monotony and boredom. We raise our children in cocoon of a domesticated faith and wonder why they run as far as they can to find adventure. A long time ago I decided I would never let that happen to my children.

I'm a first-generation Christian, but over the years I have seen the dangers that come with being the children of the second generation and beyond. First-generation believers, even when they are barbarians, often make the mistake of raising their children to be civilized. Paul addressed that point in a letter to Timothy in
2 Timothy 1:5-9
If you read his letter carefully, it is the pleading of a barbarian who is losing his son in the faith to the way of the civilized. Paul called Timothy to reignite the fire.

Just yesterday a husband and wife told me that they raised their first son to be a gentleman, and now as a man he does not walk with Christ. They went on to say, "We have a second son, and we're going to raise him as a barbarian."

How many stories do we need of children who grow up in church being forced to act like Christians rather than being won to the heart of God?

For Aaron, the jump was fraught with danger. From my vantage point, I could see though the jump was terrifying, he would find himself triumphant. It was important that he jumped and perhaps even more important that he knew me as the kind of father who would always call him to greater endeavors rather than send him back to the safe place.

I wanted my son to have the courage to jump when needed. I'm convinced God wants the same thing for us. Is it possible that your Father is also calling you to jump or at least encouraging you to do so?

Somehow reading this reminded me of this missionary's story