I have a son heading to college in a couple of months. When I look back over the past eighteen years, I remember all too well thinking this moment was so far in the future it would never arrive. But here it is. Even though my son will be attending a Christian university, I know the pressures of finding his way in the world are still real and, at times, heavy.
In my sermon this past Sunday I mentioned that 70-80% of all high school graduates leave the Church when entering college. In numerous surveys asking these church drop-outs why they left the faith, the number one reason given was not because of the music, programming or preaching. The number one reason young adults leave the church is because they don’t see that believing in Jesus made any difference in the lives of their parents.
I pray my son sees a different story in my life. I can think of the numerous times I’ve blown it, but I hope he sees that following Jesus is not just about attending a church service, having family devotions, and praying before meals. I hope he sees that following Jesus means I have a joy not based on my circumstances, a love not based on conditions and trivialities, and a peace that surpasses understanding, especially when life doesn’t measure up to our expectations.
When my son goes off to college, he will be faced with making choices of what he believes and why he believes. He will enter a scientific world possessing amazing knowledge of how to do almost anything. But he will also enter a postmodern world that has lost its way as to what should and should not be done. Science gives us the knowledge and tools to do the “what,” but it leaves us morally paralyzed because we do not know the “why.” We may be far advanced scientifically, but we are extremely primitive morally.
Albert Einstein observed that “perfection of means and confusion of goals seem—in my opinion—to characterize our age” (“The Common Language of Science,” in The Living Language: A Reader, p. 306). Einstein called the setting of goals the concern of theology and the humanities, not science. “Why are human beings here? How should we act toward one another? What is necessary for happiness? What is the purpose of life?” (Gene Edward Veith, Loving God with All Your Mind, p. 61).
These are the daunting questions my son will face when he leaves home, and these questions can’t be answered in a test tube. My wife and I did the best we could at giving him a solid foundation from which he can investigate these eternally significant questions. And now he has to wrestle with the answers as we once did, and sometimes continue to do.
To all parents who have had to open your hands and hearts as you watched your children enter adulthood, may the grace, comfort and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. To all parents whose hearts are heavy, because your adult children have chosen a different path, my prayers are with you. Don’t give up. Continue to love and pray for your grown children. To all parents who have a child entering college this fall, I pray you will be there to listen, love, and walk with your child as he or she wrestles with questions that probe deeper than Freshman Biology. May they find the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, even Jesus the Christ. Amen.