Walking by 2
Kindergarten by 5
Proficiently reading by, oh say, 6
Driver License (in the state of Maryland) at 16
Vote by 18
Graduate by 18, immediately into college
Graduate college by 22
Land a great job by 22.5
This is a list of just a few prospective items in life that individuals in our culture, although unspoken, are expected to attain. Timelines stare us in the face every time we log onto Facebook. Parents hear them reviewed at each visit to the doctor. Media publish, post, and paste various types of timelines with the hope that parents adhere to the expectations established by experts. As a parent, resisting the urge not to plop my kids on a timeline interval or measure them up to the benchmarks defined by people who don’t know the intricate weaving and knitting of my kid’s heart proves more difficult sometimes than not accruing late fines at our beloved free library. (Just an aside, when the last kid from this household graduates, I’m going to suggest that our local library erect a new wing in the children’s section using the decades of perennial overdue fines accumulated and paid by our family.)
I look to God’s word for guidance:
I ponder on Moses and the timeline in which God had him on. Moses, as a babe meandering down the river in a basket, as a fierce protector of his people while enslaved in Egypt, as a fugitive, all this before he led God’s people out of Egypt.
Then I study Abraham’s timeline — the man waited 25 years for a child.
I often linger over David’s timeline: shepherd, boy-warrior, fugitive, then king.
One can’t forget Joseph, the youngest of a brood of boys who became a fraternal outcast, slave, servant, prisoner, interpreter of dreams, Pharaoh’s right hand man, and his most important role: that of forgiver.
I watch how Paul, initially, followed his own timeline and how God abruptly interrupted Paul’s narrow Pharisaical path and widened his road. Even then, once on the road of salvation, Paul waited it out for some time, probably for further equipping, before throwing himself into his new calling. God fractured Paul’s timeline and redesigned it for eternal purposes.
So with my children, the world may dictate timelines of all sorts. As each one of my children are uniquely designed, I need to unabashedly defy what the world dictates and peer into the heart of each child and let that determine the timeline and the length in which we remain at each step of life’s timeline.
|Image by Google|
In timeline matters of the heart, do I see spiritual readiness or spiritual deficiency, growth or immaturity with this child? My child may be chronologically eligible for dating or driving or college, but what pours out of the well spring of the heart? Does that child drink from the fountain of Life or is that child drawn to the troughs of the world?
Then, we adjust the timeline accordingly. As in the lives of Moses, Abraham, David, and Joseph, God maintained the timeline and did not release them to do His work until they were equipped and ready.
On timeline matters of physical and intellectual development, like academics and sports, the same standards apply. I must examine the unique creation, the child, before me with eternal eyes rather than the specs borrowed from the culture. As a parent, grandparent, caregiver, mentor, resist applying the culture’s timeline to children and bask in the beauty of who God set before you to love and nurture.
I pen these words with humility gained from the bumps and bruises of wrongly comparing the successes or failures of my children to the standards the culture set before me. Time, experience, and heaps of grace taught me to look culture square in the eye and resist it’s claims about how my kid ought to perform in the world.
A heavenly timeline might look radically different than a culture timeline. Time is the critical word. Before moving to the next rite of passage on the timeline, I need to equip my child for the next benchmark or interval on his/her timeline and not proceed until evidence of readiness prevails.
So before that next blip on your child’s timeline confronts you, stop and prayerfully consider, “Is this child ready to move on?” Open the pages of scripture to see how God manages the timelines of those who were dearest to him.