Letters to our Children

Our Child Is Dead
(Third Letter)

Tom M. Roberts

"As I closed my last letter to you, I mentioned that we would discuss some things that were painful to us. I speak especially of myself. Writing to you like this does open some memories that were better buried. Up until now I have mentioned the pride that I felt in you, the joy you brought your mother and me and the anticipation that you would continue to do the same as you grew older. I don't know how you feel about some of the things I will mention but as I put them into words, I wonder at how life changed for us.

"As you know, my father is not a Christian. As far back as I can know, none of my people on my father's side were Christians. So when I learned the truth and determined to live right, I hoped to establish a new order of things from myself into the future with this family. Being right with God is so good! It explains so many things in this world and lifts our eyes to life everlasting. It is such a joy to be a Christian that it destroys me to know you don't have this conviction. If I fail to pass along this faith in Christ to you and to your sons and daughters after you, I will have failed miserably in the most important thing in this life. Can you imagine the intensity of this feeling in me? Can you realize how it saddens me to see you unconcerned about eternal life? Do you understand how much I feel a failure if you do not see the beauty of Christ and His truth?

"When I first learned that you drank beer, I cried. Oh, you denied it but we both knew you were lying. You had been slipping around for some time and smoking. And you had friends that you would not bring home with you. I'm sure that it was because you knew they would not fit into your lifestyle and would be uncomfortable. Remember the discussions we had about how late you could stay out at night? Even now I cringe when I think of the bitter words that have been exchanged between us. I felt that you had rebelled against our values and you felt that we were being too strict. We still stand somewhere at odds on this issue.

"I find a great deal of resentment in me against modern music and the role it has played in alienating the youth in this country from good morals. I feel that this one thing, immoral and rebellion-instilling music, became the encouragement you needed to overcome the values you were taught as a child. In the lyrics of the music, as well as the all-pervading beat of the unrestricted license it preaches, you found an ally that did not restrict, did not hold back. In fact, it actually encouraged you to 'do your own thing,' to 'let yourself go.'

"It was during this time that you almost did not finish school and did so only because we forced you to go. It was during this time that I became aware of the fact that you expressed resentment against 'going to church.' It was during this time that I became aware of the fact that you resented me and any restrictions placed on your actions: what you did, where you went, and who you were with. Long hair became a symbol of your frustration and identified you with the crowd. Drugs became a constant fear to parents around the country. I don't know to this day how much they figured in your alienation from us and I don't care to know. That all of this formed a pattern of rejection of God is evident. Of course, some children went too far and were killed. Some ruined their minds. We are thankful that such was never true with you. But these things, all added together, created a life-style so different from that in which you were raised that it still makes me dizzy to think about it. How could such have happened? What could I have done differently to help you avoid being caught in this ungodly environment? How much of it do you see in its true light even now?

"The Bible teaches that there is a way that is right and cannot be wrong. This way is the way of truth and holiness. Look around you at the marriages that are ruined by divorce, lives that are destroyed by alcohol and drugs, hopes that are destroyed by sin and souls that are turned away from God. Is this the way you have been taught? Is this the way you have been brought up? Isn't there a better life than that which you see about you in the world and among the friends you have chosen?

"You have told us that people in the church have insulted you and that some of them are hypocrites and that some of them are a little abnormal about the world we live in. I won't argue that point. I have know some of this in my life too. I have been insulted, have known hypocrites and have seen some abnormal people -- even a little weird, maybe. But I find these at the supermarket (and have been insulted there) and I find these everywhere I shop. But I have also learned that there are good people in the church. Honest, God-fearing, loving, hard-working people who love one another unselfishly. I know a bunch of Christians who make mistakes. I am one of them. But look at the alternative. What if everyone drank, smoked pot, had no morals and did only what brought them physical pleasure? What kind of world would this be?

"I've been true to my word. I've talked of things that are painful. But in doing so, I wanted to try to picture two lifestyles. Both of them are filled with error. The difference between the man in the world and the man in the church is that we who are trying to be Christians are trying to learn from our mistakes, to get forgiveness for them, and to do better in the future. One lifestyle has pleasure in this world as its only goal. The lifestyle of the Christian has heaven as its goal. This is not to say that Christians have no pleasure here, but that our pleasure brings no regrets and no hang-overs.

"One final word before closing this letter. No hypocrite in the church is going to keep me away from Jesus. After all, He wasn't a hypocrite and He is the one I serve. And the one I hope you will start to serve again."

"With all my love, Dad"

e-mail this author at tmr1@flash.net

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