February 12, 2011

Dear Jack, Months 43 & 44

Dear Jack,

This letter is late, so I'm combining January and February into one. It's not that I haven't had anything to write. This has weighed so heavy on my heart that it's just now that I'm able to find the words.

Let me back up and tell you about your obsession with strangers. About a year ago, you started to become fascinated with people you don't know. Not really with the actual people as much as the fact that there are millions of individuals that don't know you, have no relationship with you and live their own lives completely separate from you. The first time we told you that you weren't supposed to talk to strangers or follow a stranger, unless you were with someone you knew, it opened up a whole new world of questions.

"Are they strangers?"

"What do strangers do?"

"Do strangers like onions?"

"Do strangers have moms and dads?"

January, 2011

You haven't asked much about strangers in the last few months, but every so often you'll ask someone in the check-out line or you'll stick your head under the bathroom stall partition while I'm changing your brother's diaper to ask if they're a stranger or not (so not kidding about this one . . . that lady is now much less of a stranger than she wants to be).

We've done a great job in teaching you that unless you're with an adult that you know, you aren't to speak to people you don't know. If there were a handbook for parenting, surely that would be on the "List of Important Things to Teach Your Children." Well, that and teaching your child not to poke his head under bathroom stall partitions.

Phone call with Dad

Recently, I've felt the need to amend that rule. A few weeks ago, an acquaintance of ours died in a household accident. I won't go into details, but it was sudden, and the details surrounding the accident and his life made it even more heartbreaking.

To say were were "acquaintances" is probably generous. Your dad had spoken to him several times while doing yard work. After one of the first few times dad had contact with him, I felt convicted about getting to know him better. He told dad about some of the things his family had been through, and I was shocked that we had lived near him or six years and knew none of it.

We felt God compelling us to get to know him better. But we had lots of excuses. "It'll be easier in the spring . . . we're too busy in the summer . . . he probably doesn't have any interest in knowing us, anyway."

And then one morning, he was gone.

I don't know if we would have made any difference in his life, or if he would have even accepted a chance to know us better. I don't know if we would have had the opportunity to show him how much we need Jesus, or if we would have even been able to just share a meal with him. What I do know is that God spoke, and we ignored it. We were disobedient.

January, 2011

It's uncomfortable to share this with you, but I have to. I've spent time teaching you not to talk to strangers, but I also want to teach you to TALK TO STRANGERS. People don't learn to know and love Jesus by us just telling them. They learn by watching us know him and love him. They don't need us to talk to them about how much Jesus will change their lives. They need to see how much He's changed ours. We can quote scripture and hand out pamphlets and pray for people all we want, but God uses our relationships with others most powerfully in drawing people to Him. And when we ignore him . . . when we're disobedient . . . it's sin. Plain and simple.

Phone call with Dad

Too few Christians know how to have a non-awkward conversation about Jesus' work in their lives. One of my parenting goals is for you and Bennett to know how to share what Jesus has done for you in a natural way. Your preschool teacher told me that you were sharing about what you had learned in Sunday School with your class one day, and it made me feel like we're heading in the right direction.

And honestly, this is about more than just evangelism. It's about obedience to God. It's about feeling his nudge and following through, rather than making excuses.

January, 2011

So should you or shouldn't you talk to strangers? Until you're old enough, you'll just have to ask me first.

But always, always wait until after they're out of the bathroom stall.



Melissa Hoffman said...

so honest and powerful Sara. You are a parent that keeps the end in mind. You challenged me today. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say except that this was so honest and sweet and convicting (and funny, too). Loved it, and someday, Jack will, too.

Wendy M. said...

Sara, thank you for sharing this. My mother was one of those people who never met a stranger and when she acted like that it was somewhat embarrassing. But now, with all the comments and memories from hither and yon about her life, it seems like she made such an impact. One we really didn't see while she was with us.
I enjoy your thoughts here, thanks for allowing us to peek into your life.