It seemed so far away. The note came home from school asking for a check. It was the time to order Ethan’s class T-shirt. It was 2015 and my oldest was closing in on the end of elementary school—4th grade where we lived at the time. It was filled with fun and excitement as he was preparing for the next step in his journey. The shirt came home with his graduation year on the back—2024. So. Far. Away.
And now it is here. Deanna and I are joining all the other parents who have walked with their sons and daughters through the conclusion of their primary schooling—he is in his last semester. As such, I’ve been a little more reflective as this calendar year has flipped to 2024. I’m reflecting on the journey my son has been on and the absolute delight it has been to watch him grow and mature. I think about the lessons he’s learned—the fun ones and the tough ones. I’ve celebrated those moments when he took a deeper step into who God has been helping him to become. I think about the times he got it wrong, worked hard, and found success on his second try. I remember many of the times he turned left when we all thought he was going to turn right. Parenting is a journey, isn’t it! Mostly, I am celebrating his growth and the way he is flourishing.
To grow, mature, and flourish. It has always been what I’ve wanted for my son—for all my kids. And, it has always been what your Father in heaven longs for you! He wants you to grow, to mature, and to flourish.
As I’ve shared previously, the farmer has never been in charge of growing the seed. God is the one that does the growing. But, the farmer does everything in her power to create the right environment for the seeds to produce. As we step into 2024, how’s your soil? How is the environment set for your growth? How do we flourish? That’s the question that I pray I can sit with all year long. How can I flourish? In my faith. As a husband. As a father. As your pastor. In my health. In my intellect. In my serving. In my kindness. How can align myself with the Lord such that He helps me grow? I long for this for you as well. How will you flourish in the year ahead? How will you mature—become more sweet, more aromatic of the fragrance of Christ? How will you grow your roots deeper in the Lord and soar to new heights?
And, how can we do this together? What does it look like for Prince of Peace to flourish? How can we grow? Grow deeper in our faith? Grow wider in our impact? Grow bigger in our numbers? Will you join me in praying, and working together, so that we might grow in the year ahead?
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, the will stay fresh and green” Psalm 92:13