When I was a kid, I ignored the evening news because it was boring. Now that I have kids, I don’t watch for a different reason.
It scares me to death.
Conflicts in politics. Economic meltdowns. Global warming, coupled with mass extinction, fed by conflicts and politics and fears of economic meltdowns. And all this to go with the normal parental fears about my kids’ physical health, emotional well being, education, and development.
It’s enough to make a dad hide under his covers.
After the last two weeks, I have two new fears to contend with. One is that, despite all the positive examples and careful training that our family and friends have offered my boys, they will want nothing to do with anything Jesus has to say.
The other is that they will.
The trigger for this new fear comes from reading the Gospel of Mark. Two sets of brothers—Peter and Andrew, James and John—were the first to answer Jesus’ call to follow him. When I put myself in their position, I can see the attraction. Jesus doesn’t have much of a reputation yet, but he obviously has both charisma and depth of character. Leaving home to follow him means embarking on the greatest of adventures, a journey that will cost them everything, but give them even more.
I see the attraction in that kind of life. It’s not always a rush, but it is a worthy challenge. Most days, in my own limited way, I live it.
But that’s from my perspective, the same as the brothers by the lakeshore.
When I look at it through their fathers’ eyes, however, I see things differently. I can’t imagine that Jonah or Zebedee was particularly happy to have the family business dumped back in their laps after their retirement. More than that, though, I wonder what they thought of their boys’ prospects, once they took up with this Jesus character. Personally, I would worry about where he might lead them.
I certainly do on my sons’ behalf.
It’s one thing for Jesus to ask me to lay down my life for others. It’s quite another for him to expect such sacrifice from my kids. It makes me a little angry. And a lot nervous.
But there’s no real alternative. I can try to teach self-protection and model moral ambivalence, but I’ll fail. I am still too captivated by the story of Jesus to leave it. Plus, I’ve come too far down this path to believe that there’s really any safety in retreat.
I’m also far enough down the road to know that my children will have to make their own choices. If they leave their father’s business and set out to follow Jesus, they are in for a dangerous ride.
No matter. I can’t imagine a more meaningful life than the one I’ve chosen. I hope they can find the same fulfillment and more. And I hope my heart can take it when they do.