School awards ceremonies, a.k.a presentation nights are notoriously dull. Dutiful yet proud parents rock up to these events wishing they could fast forward all the other bits to get to the moment when their child receives an accolade. Prepared for boredom as a succession of names are read out, and ready for lame attempts at humour from the emcee, they endure the momentary pain for the somewhat longer lasting pleasure of seeing their child's achievements formally recognised.
These occasions almost always have a highlight or two. I remember one ceremony I attended in which a Year 6 boy come up to receive an award for maths and was audibly heard to say, 'But I hate maths!'
The other highlight on that night, was watching the same boy, and a Year 6 girl snagging nine or ten awards between them. With academic achievements, sports awards and library service recognition, these two were clearly the stars of the show.
I recall thinking at the time that they were the big frogs preparing to jump out of the pond of primary school and into the lake of high school the following year. I wonder how well they did. What sort of expectations would have been placed upon them? By themselves? Their peers? Their parents? How did they respond?
Most parents want their children to do well at school or at sport, but some mothers and fathers expect big things. Early success is a portent of future greatness. The eager anticipation that these children will produce glorious fruit as older children, and then as adults can hang above their heads like a storm cloud. Some parents attempt to live their lives again through their children to try to somehow atone for their own perceived failures, or lack of success. The weight of these often unrealistic and unfair expectations crushes many young spirits by sucking the fun out of their lives.
God does not place such expectations on his children. As a parent who expects great things from God, my expectations for my children revolve around them finding meaning and satisfaction in living in obedience to God's will, and in them learning to love God and others more than themselves. Who they are matters more to me than what they do. God is more interested in our characters than our achievements but for those who follow Him, and love like Him, the awards ceremony in Heaven will be the most awesome party of all time. I hope to see you there.