When you started the countdown to your birthday at the beginning of the month I tried to take it stride. It was cute. Even at six feet tall you are still a little boy in my heart. I look at photos of your birthdays and remember all the details. There was always a cake to match your love at the time. My personal favorite the kite shaped cakes with crossing tales. You were crazy about the book, “Curious George Flies a Kite”.
With so many great memories it was easy to hop on your countdown bandwagon at first. By the 17th, however, I was having a hard time. St. Patrick’s Day was when you were scheduled to arrive. I realized that back in 1994 the next ten days traveled slowly but this year they would fly by. Now on your birthday I’m equal parts excited and nervous. Turning eighteen is a rite of passage that unlike previous birthdays has legal implications.
I’ve wrestled with these thoughts for months but they hit me over the head like a bat when I was walking into the pharmacy yesterday. On my way in, to get your prescriptions I found a penny. Reaching to pick it up I caught sight of a wall of men’s magazines. They screamed at me, “He’s one of us now!” It occurred to me as I was paying the bill, this will mean I can’t legally make healthcare decisions for you. This privilege and a list of others are now yours. My role as your parent is changing. I lose my dictator status and am demoted to advisor.
While I don’t think I’ve treated you like a “subject” in our relationship this realization got me thinking about all of the other things you would be able to do. Get a tattoo, buy a time share, marry a mail-order bride, vote for the Green Party presidential candidate, get sued, or enlist. None of these things are likely but now your choice. These and other decisions all yours to legally make.
On my prayer walk after the prescription pick-up I started thinking about sons in the Bible. King David’s appointment of his son Solomon to the throne came to mind. Before he died and the prince was to become king David said to him,
“Be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”
This summed it up for me. I am not on the verge of death but my role in your life is changing at such a rapid pace I feel like part of me is dying. It’s a good death but still a loss. I don’t have the power anymore to be Queen Mother so to speak. At eighteen you get to be your own ruler. You go from prince to king overnight and like David I feel compelled to say the same, “Be strong Luke, show yourself a man.”
There is no greater advice I can give you. What King David knew is the same thing every Godly adult I know—knows. This is why he prefaced his advice with this admonition. Obedience to God’s law takes a great deal of strength. Making choices based on God’s standards versus the worlds is hard. We live in a world that says the ideal man is a man’s man not a God’s man. The idea of being a man after God’s own heart is not what is portrayed in the wall of magazines that greeted me.
Today’s ideal man is tall, handsome, athletic, and sexy. He’s cool, confident, powerful, and detached. He’s a rebel with a cause and that cause is what feeds his ego. He’s got a beach house, luxury car, swimsuit model girlfriend, and vacations in exotic places. If he’s a world class athlete or thug in the NBA he’ll also get endorsement deals. Sadly, while he might be one of the most influential men in the world Bill Gates is not considered “ideal” by most teenage boys. Ideal today looks hip.
Unfortunately, hip is a fashionable standard so it’s always changing. It’s obsolete before you can ever establish anything concrete. This is why David didn’t encourage Solomon to be fashionable. He challenged him to be strong and make good choices based on standards that don’t change.
Man’s rules are always changing because they are so loosely tied to any kind of moral standard. They also do nothing to inspire people to do what’s right. If we had a “turn the other cheek” law would people comply? If they did, maybe stand your ground type laws wouldn’t be an issue? Can you imagine a world where everyone considered the idea of loving your neighbor a mandate not a suggestion?
This is my great hope for you as you head into your adult life. That you will look to God’s law to tell you what He requires. His greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself and unless you happen to be the perfect guy that means everyone. Love everyone and treat them accordingly. This means respecting them enough to make choices that will not harm them because every choice you make has a ripple effect.
This is as important for you to remember as it was Solomon. Being a king doesn’t require a noble birth it requires having a royal standard. If you know what that is, and live according to it you will prosper in a life that feels like a castle. Everyone around you will be blessed too.
So Prince Luke today it’s official—you are crowned King of Your Life. Remember who your Ruler is and wear your title well! I love you.