Ready to Launch

  • Friday, March 26, 2010
  • "Go therefore...I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

    We humorously refer to it as "failure to launch." Children not able to make up their minds as to what their place in an adult world looks like and finding it more comfortable and less stressful to simply put off the decisions and commitments of moving from adolescence into adulthood. "Failure to launch" has redefined the 21st century family. Our president refers to it as a crisis of care-need for securing "interim" coverage.

    An increasing number of 20-somethings have found security in delayed transition by staying in school. A friend of mine introduced one of his children as being in "gradual school." :) And this week delayed maturing has been judicially approved until you are at least 26 years of age. And somewhere in all this the role of parenting with the goal of the gradual release of children into responsible independence is being lost.

    However old your children become, ultimately every parent must face the trauma of launching their offspring into a world of responsibility and decision-making. It may be delayed, but it is not ultimately avoidable. So wise parents spend their 18 or 20 or 26 years intentionally and strategically preparing their children to progressively embrace their independence and carry the weight of their decision-making. And when that moment of final release comes? Pure panic!

    Our son was just 15 years old. A family friend with a youth ministry in summer camping had contacted us to ask if Robb could join his staff for the coming season. With great uncertainty and pendulum-extreme emotional swings, we agreed that he was "ready" for the responsibility. The bags were packed and the lights turned off in his basement refuge.

    We faced the family wheels to the west and made the journey together. After endless hours on the interstate hi-way, we turned onto the frontage road, drove past the beautiful lake, ducked under the overpass, crossed the cattle gate (sorry city-types...will have to ask someone who knows to draw you a picture of that), and began the winding drive along the narrow sandy trail, down through the water-shed ravine, across the shallow stream, and out onto the hill-top overlooking the picture-perfect hollow where the log buildings and the rail-car cabooses (is the plural of caboose, "caboose"?). The sun was rapidly setting behind the hills to our right and the clouds darkened the sky overhead. We were about to leave our son in the hands of "total strangers."

    I said this was a "family friend." Truth be told...Wes was MY friend. Linda had not yet had the privilege of meeting him. Or his wife. Or his two sons. Or Aunt Ruthie. Or Uncle Charlie! Speaking of Uncle Charlie. The summer staff had just finished their dinner together (supper when you are in the wilderness of Wyoming) and were preparing for a staff meeting. We stood in the light of the log-home doorway, and Uncle Charlie saw the "fear" on Linda's face. Tears were not far from falling as he threw that big Italian arm around her shoulders, gave her a squeeze and declared, "Don't worry, mom! We'll knock 20 pounds of flab off of him in no time!" That is exactly NOT what the mother of a 5 foot 5 inch, 125 pound skinny teenager needed to hear as the rain-drops began pelting the roof!

    As we drove back out of this wilderness place following a group breakfast of pancakes and sausage lovingly prepared by Aunt Ruthie, we wondered if we had just made the biggest mistake of our lives. As the wheels rediscovered the pavement, the reality of our decision seemed to fall fully upon us. We had just "launched" our son into adulthood. Whatever he was, whatever we had prepared him to be, whatever he would do or decide, we would no longer be right there to correct or cover. He would suddenly bear the full weight of the consequences of his decisions...both the good ones and the bad.

    As we come together this Sunday morning to worship the Lord and to find encouragement from the fellowship of the saints, we come together to "launch." This Sunday we will again send out select members of the Faith Family as they embrace the challenges of becoming Faith @ First German. And in the "sending" there is that same pendulum-extreme of emotions. There is the excitement of what God is doing and what He has planned and what He will do. There is the anxiety of separation and the fear of the unknown. Just as with our son when he was placed in that first adult position of independence to decide, to succeed, to fail and to work through the consequences of his decisions, so Faith @ First G is being "launched" into the responsibilities of adulthood.

    Our son navigated through the transitional stages of his move into adulthood just fine. You will have the privilege of witnessing some of the fruit of God's working in his life over these years on Sunday as he opens God's Word for us in worship. And we anticipate the joys of observing God's strengthening graces at Faith First G in the months ahead as we see them growing to maturity.

    "Failure to launch"? I cannot imagine Robb living under our roof as a 26-year-old! (Pretty sure Kimberly would have found that an uncomfortable beginning for their marriage). If we had said "no" when Pastor Don is called in November to request Faith's coming to the aid of a needy congregation, would we not be disobedient to the purposes and plans of our Heavenly Father as He wisely "sends" His children out?

    "Go therefore...I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

    With joy and mixed emotions, we gather together this Sunday to "launch"!


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