Small Tests Over Long Periods of Life
"When George Jaeger
took his three sons and an elderly grandfather out on the Atlantic Ocean for a
fishing trip, he had no premonition of the horror that he would face in a
matter of hours. Before he would step on shore again, Jaeger would watch each
son and then his father die, victims of exhaustion and lungs filled with water.
The boat's engine had
stalled in the late afternoon. While increasing winds whipped the sea into
great waves, the boat rolled helplessly in the water and then began to list
dangerously. When it became apparent that they were sinking, the five Jaeger
men put on their life vests, tied themselves together with a rope, and slipped
into the water. It was 6:30 p.m. when the sinking craft disappeared and the
swimmers set out to work their way toward shore.
Six-foot waves and a
strong current made the swimming almost impossible. First one boy, and then
another -- and another . . . swallowed too much water. Helpless, George Jaeger
watched his sons and then his father die. Eight hours later, he staggered onto
the shore, still pulling the rope that bound the bodies of the other four to
'I realized they were
all dead -- my three boys and my father -- but I guess I didn't want to accept
it, so I kept swimming all night long,' he said to reporters. 'My youngest boy,
Clifford, was the first to go. I had always taught our children not to fear
death because it was being with Jesus Christ. Before he died I heard him say,
'I'd rather be with Jesus than go on fighting.' "
stress is one test of effective leadership. It may also be the proof of
accomplishment when it comes to evaluating the quality of a father. In
that awful Atlantic night, George Jaeger had a chance to see his three sons
summon every ounce of the courage and self-control he had tried to build into
them. The beautiful way they died said something about the kind of
father George Jaeger had been for fifteen years.1
As I read that brief account I realized that
few fathers will ever face such a serious and heart-breaking tragedy which
tests our parenting, which tests what we have built into our children. That
tragic and true story establishes two principles about being a father.
First, how well our children perform under
pressure is determined by the job we have done in preparing them for such tests.
Our children will perform better during those days of testing if we follow
certain Bible principles relating to raising children. Solomon, the wisest
father who ever walked in this world, states in Proverbs 13:24, "he that loveth
him (his son) chasteneth him EARLY". Indeed it is true that some parents
fail to prepare their children by failing to correct, train, and direct them.
However, too often parents fail at preparing their children because they fail
to begin early. The task of raising children must begin during the earliest
years of life. Dads can begin the job too late and begin only after the going
gets rough, only after problems surface. As a pastor I have dealt with many
parents who face struggles with their children. However, most of the time I
find myself counseling parents who have teenagers, not toddlers. I regret to
say that some parents did not see how vital the earliest years of life were! If
our children are going to stand up in some of the most difficult tests of life
during the teenage years they need direction and correction in the very
earliest years of life, when the tests that he or she faces are relatively
small and the dangers of failure are relatively minor. It will be what we have
done in the earliest years of life that will show itself when the pressure is
on, when the ship is facing the winds and the water, when great trials have
come upon our children.
Second, others will render judgment on the job
we have done as they watch our children face those tests of life. As I
read the story I admired the job that George Jaeger surely did and credited him
with the courage and self-control that was exhibited by his children.
Solomon states in Proverbs 17:6, " Children's
children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their
fathers." Solomon states that the "glory" of children are their fathers." The
word "glory" means "to cause one to think well of". Solomon is saying that what
causes people to think well of any child is based on what dad did in raising
him or her. Parents are responsible for their children. Whether or not anyone
wants to accept responsibility for his or her children, the fact is that there
is no one else who has had the opportunity for more input than dad and mom.
Whether or not you have taken those opportunities, you were the one who has had
the God-given responsibility for correcting and directing your children. In
America, we are short on accepting responsibility. Likewise, too many parents
are short on accepting responsibility for their children's wrong attitudes and
behavior and are long on accepting praise and credit when their children turn
As we have just come past "Father's Day", we
need to face the challenge once again to invest in our children's lives and to invest
in them early. Do not wait until the teen years to invest, to
discipline, to challenge, to inspire, to build in principles of courage and
self-control! We also need to accept the responsibility for our children.
It is only when we recognize that we are responsible for the raising or our
children that we will feel the weight of doing what we deep down know we ought
to be doing.
Yes, most of us will never face the trial that
the Jaeger family faced. Our trials will come in much smaller doses over long
period of living. Nevertheless, our children during times of pressure and
trial, will or will not survive based on what we have taught them during the
earliest years of life and a judgment will be rightly rendered on the job we
have done as fathers and as parents for it was our job, no one else's, to raise
our children with principles of courage, self-control, and godliness!
1 The Effective Father, Gordon
MacDonald ,pg 13