I was a teenage palm reader
Yes, you read that right, this homeschool mom, now a fairly conservative Christian, dabbled in the art of telling her high school classmates their future based on the lines in their hands. This was before I became a believer.
It was a fun skill that made for instant popularity, albeit heady and short-lived. I read a few books, practiced on my family, learned some terms and, before I knew it, word had spread and all the football players were coming to me asking me to look at their hands and tell them if they were going to get married, be successful, live long lives.
I share this fact about my life before I became a Christian because the start of a new year is always a time of hope for the future. As a teen, I was very confused about spiritual things even though I was brought up by religious parents in a very devout denomination and regularly went to church from infancy. My ideas of God and eternity engendered fear and awe, but I hoped that my demerits would be outweighed by the good things I did, thus making it possible for me to escape eternal damnation. Palm reading was not my only vice. I also developed a sophisticated method of cheating on tests based on American sign language. Don’t ask me why I thought cheating was OK; discernment was not one of my strong points.
I am always amazed at the transforming power of the grace of God. He takes broken, worthless pots and makes them into worthy vessels, fit for the master’s use. After I became a Christian I learned that all that previous dabbling in palm reading was a wrong-headed attempt to know hidden things and I renounced it along with my cheating schemes. This was part of confessing and repenting; God had made it clear to me in His time that I was to forsake these things. When I was doing a post-graduate internship, I roomed with a girl who was rather straight-laced, very conservative, and who was a mature Christian who knew and loved God’s word. She had a beautiful voice and often sang the Scriptures. One day we were in a rough part of town. “Do you smell that?” she asked me. I smelled something but did not know what it was. “It is pot,” she declared, rather matter-of-factly. When I asked how she knew, she laughed. “Didn’t I tell you? I was a pot-head in high school.” I was floored. There was no vestige of the girl’s former life in her. Sometimes I meet people who come from the most broken homes, who have gone through a series of step-parents, who did not have a Christian upbringing, who made some bad choices in their early lives. But in looking at them today, all one sees is God’s redeeming grace.
The promise of grace should be a tremendous encouragement to us today as homeschool parents. We may look at our children and see lots of foolishness, immaturity and gaps in character development. “What will they grow up to be if that is what they are now?” we moan privately and perhaps not so privately.
Take heart. What you see is not what will be. God promises to complete the work He has begun. In my morning devotions recently in Tabletalk I was encouraged by this explanation of hope: “Hope is the ground of faith and love, the source from which they spring and are sustained by the Spirit’s power (Col. 1:5). Such hope is not a wish for something that may or may not happen, but the present expectation of what will surely be experienced in its fullness in the future. Knowing that we will experience the fullness of salvation in the age to come, our faith and love are sustained in the present era.”
Yes, our children may be foolish, immature and not all we hope in the character department. But God has a timetable for them to conform to the image of Christ. I have often thought: What a mercy it is that God does not show us immediately all that is wrong in our lives at the moment of conversion. Instead, He gently leads us into His truth, revealing our blind spots as we look to Him.
A booklet that was a great help to me as a young Christian was titled “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” It used the analogy of the rooms of a house for the areas of our lives that we must give to Christ as Lord. As an illustration the reader imagines that Christ is walking with them through the rooms. Finally He asks about the hidden closet, the one that represents our secret sins. All must be turned over to Him.
May we expect that God will work these good changes in our children? Are we going to be disappointed?
God is worthy of our hope. He will do what He said. It is not a vain hope, but one that is based on the solid rock of His Word and the finished work of Jesus.
These days I still attempt to predict the future. The difference is I am no longer reading palms. I am reminding myself of the sure promises of our Father God. I am looking at my children and seeing what they will be by His grace and provision.