I wrote “You’ll Find Your Way” (from Light for the Lost Boy) for Asher, my second son. He turned 13 last month, and I wrote him a letter for part of his birthday (the other part was a drumset). Here’s a little excerpt from what I told him:
You’re thirteen today. I know you know that, but it feels kind of weird and wonderful to sit and think about it, doesn’t it? I remember being that age, and beginning to realize more than ever before that growing up was an inevitable adventure. “Inevitable” means it’s coming and there’s nothing you can do about it as long as you’re drawing breath. And I don’t just mean getting older and taller, either. I mean your heart is growing up. You’ve experienced some pain, some loneliness perhaps, some sense of your smallness in the great big world. It’s a scary thing, isn’t it? There’s no shame in saying yes. But it’s not all the bad kind of scary, either—it’s also the good kind of scary, like roller coaster scary: you’ve been clicking up, up, up toward the top of the ride, and any minute now the coaster is going to peak and plunge you down into the wild and holy speed of life. Throw your hands in the air and scream.
But one of the grand things about growing up, I’ve learned, is that you’re already ancient. Your soul, whatever the “soul” is, will live forever in Christ, and God exists outside of time. That’s a crazy thought, isn’t it? God looks at us and sees the beginning and the end at once, kind of like a song or a story. When you hold a book in your hand, you’re holding that character’s whole world—the terror, the joy, the lostness, and the final good ending. But if you think about it, the character in the story doesn’t see the ending, doesn’t know his story is something that can be held in one hand. The character is feeling whatever he’s feeling when you read that sentence. But the reader, a little bit like God, can flip to the end and see how it all works out. Maybe that’s how God beholds our lives. He sees the ending, the middle, and the beginning as one good story. Right now, you’re thirteen and wondering where you’re going to work, who your friends will be in twenty years, where you’ll live, who you’ll marry, what your kids will be like. But in some mysterious way, God knows all those answers even now. Every day is another page in that story, and you can’t know how it’s all going to turn out, just like riding a roller coaster for the first time—except that because of Jesus, because he has made you his son, you can embrace all the twists and turns with joy because you can be confident that he built the ride and loves you more than you can presently know. You will survive until the end of your life (whenever he has decided that is), and then you will continue on into the next book of your life in Christ. That’s Heaven.
I guess that’s what I’m saying. Your soul and your body are mysteriously connected. Your body, like Mr. Clarence’s body, which you saw at the funeral a few weeks ago, is going to waste away, but you, Asher Jesse Peterson, will live on. After your body dies, your soul will happily await the day when Jesus will return to earth and raise us all again. Then, like moving into a new house, your soul will inherit a new, perfect body that is neither old nor young, and will go on living in a perfect world without disease or the great shadow of death. So in that sense, you who were made from the mind and imagination of God himself, were born on December 15th, 1999, but what you are made OF has always been, and, because you placed your life in Jesus’ hands a few years ago, you will go on living forever and ever. So yes, you’re thirteen. But in God’s eyes you’re already as old as the stars, and indeed, you will outlive them. Is that a crazy thought, or what? Your experience and age and wisdom are merely catching up to the eternal nature of your redeemed soul. And I believe that you’ll go on catching up to that eternal age, well, for eternity. Our lives will unfold and unfold and unfold forever into the Kingdom of God, the expanse of which is infinite. That means you’re already old, and you’ll continue growing younger as God’s son forever. Does your brain hurt? Mine does.
When I look at you I see the boy you are and the man you will be. I’ve said before that I think you’re going to be an amazing grandfather. That grieves me a little, because by the time you’re a grandfather I’ll probably be long dead. But your quick mind, your amazing sense of humor, your gentleness with children, your thoughtfulness (all traits that delight me) will go on developing as the Lord refines you and makes you into the person you were always meant to be. I give thanks to God for every single day I get the gift of watching you shine in this world. And when I’m an old man (if I live to be an old man), I’ll still look at my son, my Asher Jesse, and marvel. I’ll shake my head in wonder that I got to be a little part of your story, and you got to be a big part of mine.
My hope for my boy is that he’ll take Jeremiah 6:16 to heart: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the roads and look; ask for the ancient paths, and walk in them, and you will find rest for your souls.”
A little bit of trivia about the video: we filmed most of it at Michael Card’s place in Franklin, TN. The little boy in the video is named William Hearn, and is a part of the homeschool co-op our kids go to. His whole family plays music and is involved in drama productions. He’s a sweet kid, and was a trooper on the long day of shooting. We did a few reshoots at the Warren, which is where the piano shots were filmed. That day was the peak of the heat wave of 2012, and though it may not look like it, the temperature was 108˚ in the shade. Every minute or so we had to wipe the sweat from my face, and in a few of the shots you can see it dripping from the tip of my nose. In the shot where I’m sitting at the piano and you can see the grassy woods slope away behind me, the Hidden House my daughter and her friends built is just outside the frame. I love that we got to make some of this video in the woods where my children have adventured. The video was directed by Grant Howard, the fine fellow who also directed the “Dancing in the Minefields” video. Thank you Grant, William, Michael, the crew, and Centricity Music for making this happen!
(Here’s another little video about the song.)