What do you want for your child?

a child's hand in an adult's hand

“… God bless you and save you my dear son and I shall be the happiest father on earth.” – D.L. Moody in a letter to his son, William

I’ve never been what might be considered “kid friendly.” I grew up as an only child and children, especially babies, were a mystery to me. As little as I had thought about being a father, I began to get excited when I found out that my wife and I would be having a son. I constructed an image of who my son would be, what he would do, and how he would impact the world. That image was shattered by a doctor’s misdiagnosis of a genetic disorder on an early ultrasound and several weeks in the NICU after being born five weeks early.

It was through a challenging pregnancy and first few weeks after as a father that I realized a valuable lesson. The image I had constructed … the one that was shattered … and the things I had wanted for my son paled in comparison to what I ended up wanting for my son. My dreams of him becoming a football star or having a great career were shortsighted, temporal, and fleeting. As well intentioned as I may have been, my dreams for my son were too small.

As I read through one of D.L. Moody’s letters to his son William, I was struck by the heartfelt expression Moody included toward the end of his letter: “…God bless you and save you my dear son and I shall be the happiest father on earth.” I’m sure that Moody wanted other things for his son. What father does not want to see their children find success, love, and peace? What father doesn’t desire to have a child who is healthy and independent? At the same time, Moody’s heart’s desire for his son was not for success or love or health but for the blessing and salvation of God to find him.

Mr. Moody offers a reminder of what it means to express the truth in love. Moody’s words are earnest and authentic. They arise from Moody’s own convictions about and devotion to Christ. There is nothing more he can wish for his son than to know the Savior. Christ had so impacted Moody that he could not think of anything more joyous than having his son be adopted into the family of God.

Father God, may our greatest desire for others be to know You and to experience Your blessing. Let us not be fooled into thinking that comfort, peace, or success are important when they are found without You. Instead, help us to see the world through Your word, so that our hearts break for the lost and rejoice for the found. Amen.

JAMES SPENCER, PHD is President the D.L. Moody Center, an independent non-profit organization based in Northfield, MA, and author of Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody and Thinking Christian: Essays on Testimony, Accountability, and the Christian Mind

Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas