I’m fond of this Latin epigraph, because it resonates so deeply with the revelation of God and with my own experience: “The end depends on the beginning.” This is one of the mottos of the once-venerable Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. PEA was founded as an intellectual and moral training ground for New England “puritan” young people. Unfortunately, it has long since abandoned this wonderful calling in favor of more progressive and popular causes. Still, the sentiment compels our attention.
God’s saving and transforming grace is no excuse for indifference to the importance of intentional beginnings and habit formation (virtue, as the ancients called it). Here, in early September, we find ourselves at the beginning of a new academic year. Perhaps it’s the beginning of your son's or daughter’s last year at MHA before launching into their callings. Perhaps it’s the beginning of “high school,” and you are particularly attentive to “preparing for college” in a way you haven’t been before.
New creation (2 Cor. 5:17) isn’t the abolition of God’s true, good, and beautiful work of creation, but it’s Christ’s restoration of it into something even more true, good, and beautiful than it was. A child grows into a mature human being but retains all of the raw materials – physical, intellectual, and spiritual – that he had at birth. Grace restores nature. The “end” of our salvation depends on God’s sovereign and good work “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1) in His plan to redeem and save. Thus, we can all experience new beginnings in the LORD’s mercy and grace.
As we begin a new year, carefully consider how you will help your son or daughter answer some questions related to “what happens next.” How will his continued education form and shape him to be a man (or woman) “fully alive” to the purposes of God throughout his entire life? Second, what “story” is the college or university telling her about her place in the world? Is it a true story? A good one? Even beautiful? Third, what must be done now to help him leave? What can you (should you) help him begin so that the end will be a good one?
I speak from experience now – although not a terribly deep experience – and I can say dropping my child at college (or watching her pursue a life where sleeping under your roof each night isn’t a given) is a tough road to walk down – but a potentially rich and rewarding one if the foundation/beginning for a fruitful life has been set. We want our children to thrive in this next stage of their lives, not merely survive. What must be done, between now and then, to make that happen? Discuss this with them over and over, as you rise-up, walk in, walk out, and as you lie down (Deut. 6:4ff)
God has written a script to a glorious story of restoration, renewal, and rebirth that has His Son, Jesus, at the center of it all, and we (hold your breath…) get to play a part! Here’s hoping and praying with you that this school year will be a time and MHA a place where your child’s place in this story gets clearer, better defined, and all the more enticing to them. Let us know how we can help you!