Sometimes really important conversations happen when you least expect them.
Isaac is the fourth of our sons and is ten years old. The two of us were chatting in the car last weekend and he told me about a school friend whose father had died and before we knew it we were talking about what we’d want to say to each other if we knew we had just a day to live. I recalled the conversation as I read in yesterday’s Times that 75% of the UK population don’t talk about death, which is surely unhealthy; we must be open about these things and best start young.
Isaac went first and I was touched when he told me that he’d want to say that he loved me and would miss me. Then it was my turn. Instead of telling Isaac what I’d say, I told him there were two things I would want to say – and could he guess what they were? So he started where he’d left off with me – and said he thought I’d want to tell him that I loved him. I agreed.
That was the first thing I would want him to know and be sure of. That I loved him very much and would always want him to know that for the rest of his life. He was my son and I appreciated him deeply. I would want him to know for the rest of his life that his father really really loved him. And I told him that I hoped he knew that right now! To my relief, he said he did!
What about the second thing? He didn’t take very long on that one and launched straight in, telling me he’d thought I’d want him to know that Jesus loved him. And he was right!
I told him that’s exactly what I’d say because I want him to know that forever. I told him that was actually the most important thing he needed to know in life – and that the best thing he could do with his life is love Jesus back and follow him all his days and into eternity. If he knew that and did that, then I could die at peace. Again he told me in a very natural, down-to-earth way that he did!
I was pleased. Pleased to be able to tell Isaac again about my love for him and the even deeper and more perfect love of Jesus Christ for him (Eph 3:16-19) . Pleased that he seemed to say these things naturally and honestly, without any sense of wanting to say ‘the right thing’ to please his dad. And pleased that we could talk openly about love, faith and death – because we must.
But the thing I was most pleased about were his answers. Because at the age of ten Isaac has grasped the two crucial things a father should tell his child. And for that, I am sincerely thankful.