handprint-glass1Winter in Houston is the best (and only) time of year to open the sunroof and enjoy a cool breeze.  The sunroof in our SUV tends to impress my children.  This magical window opens oddly and then part of the protective roof above them peels away to reveal clouds and an amazing winter sky.  And for whatever reason, it also tends to attract their fingerprints.  Honestly, every window in just about every car that carries children is frosted with smeared oily prints of little ones making their messy mark.  Typically, those prints drive me crazy and I crave that moment right after cleaning the car thoroughly that offers transparency rarely experienced in the Allen vehicles.  Call it OCD, but a clean car just makes the world seem a little more in order.

Climbing in last week and hurriedly pulling out of the driveway, I looked up and noticed the presence of those pesky invaders blocking the serene view I longed for.  I’m not talking about my children, but instead, their fingerprints.  And then, as if the Lord pressed hard on my chest, it hit me…one day I will have a printless car.  One day in the not-too-distant future, the windows will be spotless, the stains missing, the radio playing whatever I would like, and the background noise will simply be other cars passing by.  No longer will cheers and wondrous laughter erupt as I open that odd window above.  They will be gone.  My heart sank and I began to realize that these little prints are actually markers of three of the greatest blessings in my life.  As every day passes, I realize that I don’t get to keep them that long.  Eighteen years goes so quickly.

Later that evening, the thoughts of my heart came full circle as I realized the brevity of their fingerprints and connected it to the brevity of my own prints in their lives.  As each sun sets and my wife and I tuck our kids into bed, another opportunity to leave our prints passes.  When each one exits our home, they will leave intentionally and unintentionally imprinted by our lives, our words, our example, our love, and our faith.

In some homes, kids will leave expert hunters, or go on to play collegiate sports.  Others will leave with a strong work ethic and plow ahead in life.  Others will be imprinted with so much fun having traveled to many places and seen amazing things.  All of our kids will see our habits and priorities and begin to form their own for good and bad.  Hard questions began to fill my mind…

What will mine leave with?

What will they remember their dad was like?  How would they describe me?

How has my example tainted their view of their perfect heavenly Father?

Have I modeled the love of Jesus to their mom and have they truly felt it themselves?

Have I been quick to say I’m sorry and quick to forgive?

Have I equipped them to love God with all they are and abide in Jesus daily?

Have I taught them what really matters?

It is so easy to let another night or another week go without having conversations about Jesus.  But we only have their fingerprints for so long.  There are only so many days left to intentionally impress them with our prints of faith that will guide them the rest of their days.  Today truly matters.  What prints will you leave?

For encouragement, read Psalm 78.


Perspective Matters

Daniel was removed from everything he knew as a young man.  Carried off into slavery, his life would be spent in a foreign land serving kings who did not share his worldview or beliefs.  In this foreign land, he and three close friends would face their own mortality on numerous occasions as they sought to remain firm to the truth.

The first challenge was subtle but Daniel faithfully chose not to turn his foot to the left or right, but consider the path of his feet (Proverbs 4:26-27).  His faithful commitment to honoring God in something so simple as his diet paved the way for what lay ahead.  God granted Daniel favor with those in authority over him. Not many days ahead, he would have to trust the same God to provide for His very life.

Such a story begs the initial question, “Do I consider my path in the simple, seemingly small steps?”  I vividly remembering flailing face-first toward a sidewalk one early morning running.  One moment I was beginning to hit my stride and the next, I found myself painfully limping home.  A simple uneven step where the drain met the sidewalk propelled me to a few weeks on crutches and embarrassment. I have learned to appreciate the simple steps.  When we cease to consider that every step we take has direct consequences, we fail to see life as a story and live from event to event.  Every step matters.

The story of Daniel continues when the King makes an absurd request of those in his service.  Troubled by a significant dream, he asks his “wise men” to not only interpret but reveal the dream as well.  Failure to do so resulted in the immediate death of every man tasked with the impossible request.  Near to death, Daniel seeks out his companions to join him in prayer.  God reveals the dream and everything changes.  The rest of the story is found in the book of Daniel, chapter 2.  For Daniel, something drastic happens which was even greater than God sparing his life.  His perspective changed forever.  He recorded these words in a prayer of blessing to God:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.  He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings…”   Daniel 2:20-21.  In those moments, Daniel confessed truth; God is sovereign.  Those who appeared to possess so much power were unknowing steward of the One who can sift their hearts like streams of water.  This perspective guided Daniel for the rest of his life.

Perspective matters.  When we choose to trust God in the small simple steps, we learn we can trust Him in the life-altering ones.  What decisions are you making today?  Are you looking at them through an eternal perspective?  The right thing is always the smart thing…according to God’s wisdom.  When we choose to live in the shadow of the Sovereign God, our perspective leads to joy, peace, and freedom because of the One who is truly in control.