You’ll Find Your Way: A Letter and a Video

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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.)

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


27 Comments

  1. Cindy Guy

    Thanks for sharing that letter with all of us! 🙂

    side note: Looking at the video must be like looking at pictures from our wedding day. Looks beautiful in the pictures/video, but hot on the other side! (we got married in the great outdoors in the middle of a hot summer day-and I wore my mothers long sleeved wedding dress)

  2. Brenda Branson

    AP, these are wonderful, thought-provoking, life-giving words! This is the second time I’ve been moved to tears today. The first was an article by S. D, Smith which was also about his child. It really blesses my heart to see parents invest their hearts and lives into the lives of their children. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. Eowyn

    “Maybe that’s how God beholds our lives. He sees the ending, the middle, and the beginning as one good story.”

    I just finished reading a book called _A Severe Mercy_, written by Sheldon Vanauken. I know it’s a bit of a downer, but I just finished reading it this morning, and was struck by the similarity. After Vanauken’s wife, Davy, dies, he says:

    “One of the greatest occurrences of my own grief was the strange thing that began to happen within a day or two of her death. It was the flooding back to me of all the other Davys I had known. She had been in this year of her dying the Davy she had become – the Christian Davy….But now the young girl…the blithe spirit of the Islands, the helmsman of the schooner – all were equally present. They had been gone….Now they were all with me – for ever. The *wholeness* of Davy. That wholeness can *only* be gained by death, I believe….One is then, seeing it all in one’s own Now, while God in His eternal Now sees the whole of history that was and is and will be. ”

    What a lovely thought. It’s as if we’re often stuck in the Shelob chapter of The Two Towers, but haven’t yet read the ending of The Return of the King.

  4. Sarah Schwartz

    I have LOVED this song since the moment I heard it. I can finally listen to almost all of it without crying. Thank you for pouring out your father’s heart. Mine are 19, 16 and that magic 12. The video and the Song diary video make me love it even more!!

  5. James Witmer

    This song always gets me, for two reasons. First, I think I hear in it the voice of our heavenly Father, saying things I longed to hear as a boy. Second, I struggle to hope that I can convey them well to my own son. I’m thankful that, at the least, I now have this song to share.

    Thanks, AP, for putting words to this. And thanks for the reminder from Jeremiah. That had never resonated with me before, but wow.

  6. aimee

    this is the song from the album that most resonated with our 12 year old as well, she could identify with that place of in between-a sense of loss and sense of what hasn’t even begun.

  7. April Pickle

    So glad AP is here to articulate this type of stuff. (sniff, sniff) Those milestones just kill me with my own kids. The emotions are so strong that I freeze when it comes to writing to them like that. And I always want to say long prayers of thankfulness on their birthdays, but I end up cutting it short because I literally can’t speak. I’m glad I can share this with them and tell them it’s mainly what I’d like to say if I could.

  8. Leslie Sheridan

    AP, you have some kind of gift and I’m super thankful that you choose to share it with us. Goodness.

  9. Loren Warnemuende

    What a beautiful gift for your son. Such good wisdom.

    And thanks for the trivia about the video! Those are the little details I wondered about. I love backstory.

  10. Hetty

    Wow. Of all the many great things the Rabbit Room has done for me (like encouraging me to write more and be myself), I think the most significant thing is that it has made me so excited about one day being a mom and having a family. The way all of you talk about your family and treat them has deeply impacted me– to a depth I don’t even understand. Andrew, the way you talk to and about your son helps me know how the Lord thinks about and talks to me. Thank you for being such a great father, thanks for sharing with us your love for your son.

  11. SD Smith

    This is absolutely wonderful, AP. I don’t know what to say. Your work is that of a point man with a lantern. We are going the same way and you are showing us the path. So much of your art is light for the journey and I’m very thankful for you.

  12. Karen Buck

    I love that the letter and the song express this fearless trust in our God to pursue our children. We love them so much and want them to not get lost here, but our worry doesn’t help them. We can trust in the abiding goodness of the Living God and that release is part of our sanctification too.

    Thank you! My daughter is turning 13 next month!

  13. Peter B

    Wow. What everyone else already said.

    So many times — like right now — God is gracious enough to remind me of what a precious gift we have in our three young ones, and whispers ever so gently, “please, please use it well”. Like James, I came from a childhood lacking these words, and I desperately yearn to cut through all the petty, superfluous, unimportant obstacles that get in the way of showing my children what a father’s love should be.

    So yet again, thank you for using your unique gifts for the building up of the body.

  14. Pete DaDalt

    Just so happens that my daughter turns 13 (my word – a teenager already? I’m not ready) this year. A letter like this sounds like a great idea. I will, however, borrow liberally from AP’s. After all, why reinvent the wheel?

  15. Mamie Rose

    I can’t get over how beautiful this is. I’ll definitely be writing letters like this one to my someday-children. Thank you so much for sharing!

  16. Matthew

    I’ve started 2013 reading some good childrens books. I hate using the word “children” because isn’t it CS Lewis that said something like “if children enjoy it, then adults will enjoy it also. A good book is a good book.” Something like that. I’ve noticed “A Wrinkle in Time, The Invention of Hugo Cabret and 100 Cupboads – – all “12” year old children. Thanks for pointing that out.

  17. Marsha Panola

    Thanks for this. I especially liked what you said in the second video about wanting your son to have a Hidden House in his heart. It reminded me of the line in Psalm 68 that says that God makes a home for the lonely. He does; He makes His own home with us in our hearts, and what a warm and welcoming place that is, and a shelter from all of life’s bad weather! What a place of feasting and delight and comfort. I pray your son will know that fully, and will always walk the ancient paths. It’s my prayer for my own children, too.

  18. Kassi

    Thank you so much for sharing the story behind this exhortation to your son. I heard this song for the first time last night and it resonated so deeply with me. I have one young son and one on the way, and although we are still just forging the preschool years, the days are going by far more quickly than I ever could have imagined. This song really echos the prayer of my heart for their future. Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful song!

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