By Chris Sharber (Halftime Institute Alumnus 2010)
Whenever I have dared to contemplate it, I have found it difficult to understand the reality that God exists outside of the bounds of time. Strapped as I am to the relentless “arrow of time” that marches inexorably from left to right, past to future, I can’t begin to wrap my brain around the concept that God is not limited to that one-way flow. He sees everything – from the beginning, now, and to the end – all in the same instant. In His perspective, dinosaurs are roaming the swamps at the same time that I am typing out these thoughts while my unborn great-grandchildren are somewhere playing in their backyard. I have never been able to comprehend that – until today.
My wife, Julie, and I just finished the long drive back home after dropping our baby girl, Mallory, off at college. After the flurry of the day’s activities of hauling in boxes of clothes, pillows, picture frames, buying microwaves, meeting roommates, setting up computers and printers, hanging accessories, and stocking the mini-fridge with yogurt and Gatorade, at last, there was nothing left to do. The time finally came to say goodbye.
Standing by the car in the parking lot of the dorm, we took a few final iPhone photos, shared our hugs and kisses, passed a few final words of profound wisdom, and said our goodbyes – all the while doing a pretty good job of maintaining our composure. As I drove past Mallory in the parking lot, I rolled down my window for one final wave and a shout goodbye. Mallory smiled and waved back, and then she turned left to head back to her new home. I turned right out of the parking lot and onto the street. And then beside me in the passenger seat, with her voice softly breaking, Julie said, “And just like that…” That’s all she was able to get out. But I knew exactly what she meant. Just like that, the chapter is closed and two decades of what had been my primary mission in life comes to an end.
And then it hit like a tidal wave washing over me: The delivery room; the ride home from the hospital; pre-school; piggy-back rides; countless hours of playing “dogs” (her favorite toddler game); dance lessons; school plays; Father-Daughter Dance; arguing over her first ‘boyfriend’ (in 8th grade!); teaching her to ski; to swim; to drive; to ride a motorcycle; taking her to the emergency room (7 times); riding horses; cross-country meets; first Prom; last Prom; graduation; I found myself living in all of those moments in one instance. Eighteen years of life, living, growing, playing, cheering, teaching, sweating, worrying, waiting up late, consoling, laughing, coaching, were compressed into a singularity of time where the beginning was indistinguishable from the end or the middle.
I realized that when I look at her, the puffy-cheeked, tow-headed two-year-old and the radiant, confident 18 year-old young woman I just held in my arms are not separated by a span of 16 years. The newborn, the two-year-old, and the 5-, 12-, and 16-year-old are all just as real, just as ‘now’, just as tangible, visible, and present to me as the 18 year-old beauty I watched walking away towards her new life.
And I realized: That’s how it must feel. That’s how it must be for Him. Once again, God used parenting and my love for her as His most powerful visual aid to help me understand – if only a tiny bit more – His nature and His love for us.
Chris’ real life experience gave him a powerful glimpse of the true character and nature of God.
- When in your life has the truth about God become so powerfully evident?
As you read Chris’ story, there is a sense of “a job well done ” and ” no regrets” in how he parented his daughter.
- What two things do you need to stop, start or do differently to ensure no regrets in raising your children?
- What would most likely prevent you from following through on those two ideas?
- What can you do to neutralize that threat to your good intentions?