Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Houston, do you copy?"

      Upon re-entering earth's atmosphere, there is 3 minute period at the end of each space shuttle flight when Houston control loses radio contact with the crew. It has to do with ionized air not playing well with radio transmission. This loss of contact comes at a perilous time when the space craft could easily burn up and disintegrate if the well rehearsed angle of entry is not achieved. Houston control knows when the blackout is coming and informs the shuttle crew prior to it. Last minute instructions are given and then comes the silence..... and the waiting...... and the clock watching, as the all important 3 minutes count down. Finally after what seems like an eternity, the voice of the shuttle pilot pierces the silence saying.... " communication" ....and Houston control takes a collective sigh of relief.

     There seem to be some similarities to this in raising kids. I've found that there have also ocurred similar communication blackouts with my young space cadets over the years. The length of time has varied per kid but nonetheless it still happens without fail. I have been blessed that these blackouts are not born of anger and rejection but more like one that occurs when you've taken the training wheels off their bike and you give them that final push for momentum as they pedal away. You continue to shout instructions as they go careening down the hill, but you know they can't hear you and aren't listening anyway as they are totally focused on the thrill of their first "real" ride. It is that helpless time when what is required as a parent is to simply trust your instruction and their innate ability to navigate and balance thus avoiding the major face plant!
     There comes a time when kids seem to hold up everything you've ever instilled in them like a prism to the sunlight, looking for the colorful spectrum you've only thus far been able to describe to them. They ask themselves.....Can I really build my life on what Mom and Dad have believed?  It's a scary time for a parent as our training is basically finished with no real crucial instruction left to impart. Their introspection also comes at a most dangerous time, as you pray that they will say "Yes....I get it....I see what you meant all these years!"
     I think we'd be wise to be as matter of fact about the blackout as Houston control is, knowing it's coming, knowing we've done all we can to prepare for it, and even informing our little astronauts that it will happen and that it is normal. Then we can do nothing but be quiet and wait, listening for that cloud of silence to be cleared away by something like..... "Dad, you know what? don't seem to be as much of a goober as you used to be", and I reply with a simple "Well...thanks!" all the while inside jumping for joy saying...."thank you Lord, he's back safe and sound."
     As a father, I take comfort in Proverbs 22:6..."Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." The angle of re-entry will waver and they will be subjected to the destructive fire and friction of this world but God has promised they will make it back. They no doubt return to us changed from when they left, which I must accept. They'll no doubt have jettisoned some expensive booster rockets, and be covered in funky space dust with blackened and burnt shields, but they will be back. And upon that homecoming, there can be no anger at the past blackout but rather a great rejoicing in the triumphant return home.
    That sweet picture is given to us in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son.....a picture of joy and a look to the future as a relationship with a father and his now adult child becomes very, very special foreshadowing the day when we ourselves will hear, "well done child, welcome home.

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