We’re back with Francis Chan. He joins us from San Francisco. Francis and his wife, Lisa, are the authors of the new book, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity. In the book you write, Francis, “If you’d rather watch your kids grow up than see the face of your Savior today, you don’t grasp the beauty of God.” On the same page you write, “I’d bet that at least 95 percent of American ‘Christians’ would choose not to leave their families today if they were given the choice to be with Jesus” (134). Those sentences have some Philippians 1:21 punch to them. But I get the impression you, Lisa, and your five kids enjoy a pretty sweet relationship. How is a family more healthy, the more Jesus takes center stage in that family?
Actually, I have six kids and my seventh is on the way in a couple of weeks, so it is busy. And we have other people living with us as well. And I love being with my kids. They are so fun. I mean so much laughter; it’s just great.
But you know, the more I spend time with Jesus, first of all, the more my wife and kids like me. And my wife will tell me, “Why don’t you go read some more.” It is those periods when she knows I have had my time with the Lord that I am more of a delight, I guess. I don’t notice when I “turn” but I guess they do.
Also the other thing about it is the more I pray to God and I see answers to those prayers, the more my kids see that God listens to Dad, and they want the same thing for their lives. It is not just about their current happiness, and my time with the Lord isn’t just so that we can have a healthy family, because honestly, if my connection with the Lord even made our family dynamics more difficult or trying, it would still be worth it, because my goal — my greatest desire — is that when my kids leave the family, leave the home, that they would love him deeply. So I need them to experience God when they are with me; I need to see them experience the answers of prayers so that they pray more.
Once my kids move out, it would be tough if they were interviewed and said, “Ah, yeah, I had a tough family. I don’t really like hanging out with them,” or “I don’t really like my dad that much.” Of course, that would break my heart. But I could deal with that.
What would be unbearable is if they didn’t love Jesus — like, OK, they didn’t like our family, but if they love the Lord, then I can deal with that. I think about eternity. The thought of any of my children not being there, that is unbearable to me; that is devastating to me.
And so, yes, it would be painful if my kids said, “I didn’t enjoy my childhood.” Yeah, but I will get over that. There is something so much bigger. They need to know Jesus. I want them to be with me in all of eternity. They need to love him, and so I think one of the things I mention in the book is: What are you after? — like do you want them to love you more than you want them to love Jesus? Obviously, I want both, but if I am going to choose one or the other, it is always going to be Jesus.