“Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” – (ESV).
As someone who tries to follow Jesus Christ, I wish there were more verses in the Bible that I could quote that might relate to the empty nest experience, but this was one that came to me while riding my bike today. Not particularly uplifting or encouraging. For the most part the Bible is going for a larger meta-narrative about who God is and how we can fit into that story.
There are literally hundreds of marriage books that have been published on the topic of Christian marriage. When I made my own humble contribution to that vast sea of mediocrity (https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Circle-Husbands-Contemporary-Christian/dp/1600478433/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8) I took care to look up verses in the New Testament that directly and specifically addressed the topic of marriage. I found nine verses. I double checked this with my assistant and he found the same numbers. All those marriage books and only nine verses. That is not to say that there are not “principles” or other stories that are instructive for marriages. In fact there are many stories and sayings that relate to marriage and family life in general. Again, many of the instructive family stories are by way of negative example. King David, in the Old Testament had a terribly dysfunctional family life. He lived his life as warrior who was often on the run. He had several wives. The only time he was known to settle down at the palace is when he had the affair with Bathsheba. Not a scenario where we expect kids to thrive. He did have one son that he and most of Israel loved. That son’s name was Absalom. Absalom was physically very attractive. Unfortunately, Absalom led a full on revolt against his father. As a result he was dramatically and ironically killed in battle by David’s group of warriors. David’s men were happy to have eliminated the threat to their kingdom, but David himself was grief-stricken. In that passage we hear David crying out, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (see 2 Samuel 18:33). A startling sentiment. David’s grief was so significant that it caused issues with his faithful warriors who could not understand his grieving for a rebellious son when they had been so loyal. This story has foreshadowings of the story of the prodigal son told by Jesus in the New Testament, where the loyal son cannot comprehend the extravagant love of the father toward his wayward son.
So what is the point of all this? God loves us extravagantly. Not only does he wish he died for His wayward child – He actually does die in our place. God and David get the whole grief thing. We grieve for our kids even when it makes no sense. Lovely, so what about the seemingly harsh words of Jesus? They are in a way a reality check. When we launch our kids there no sense in looking back. None. The research of Myers, E.J., & Raup, L.J. (1989) found that parents often question if they have adequately prepared their children for the world at large. So why look back – it just messes up the rows in front of you.
So what’s a better verse? What verses or quotes encourage you? Share in the comment section.