I’m Going to be a Dad?

In my office, on the wall above my computer monitor, is a present my wife gave me for Father’s Day 2005. It is a picture frame with thirteen pictures of me and William. It starts with a picture of me holding him the day he was born and is followed by another picture taken on the same day each month. The final picture is, of course, me holding him on his first birthday. On my book shelves I have several other pictures of him—graduating preschool, his school photos from kindergarten, first, and second grade.  In just a few seconds, I can see all seven years of his life.

Sometimes I just can’t think or study anymore, so I take a break to rest my weary mind. It is during those breaks that I recall all the wonderful memories I have had with William over the last seven years. I think about how much he has grown physically, all that he has learned educationally, and how he is maturing spiritually. Without a doubt, I am a proud father. I love my son with every ounce of my being, and I make sure he is confident of that love. I want him to know my love for him doesn’t change when I am frustrated at his disobedience, when I am disciplining him for his actions, and most especially when we are separated from one another. I want him to understand that my love is unconditional, and nothing—I mean nothing—will ever separate him from my love, ever.

Most of us have seen too many children literally fighting for the affections of their parents. When they do not get it, they go elsewhere in search of love and acceptance, and it is guaranteed they will find it somewhere. It was this thought which woke me up from a deep sleep shortly before William was born. I sat straight up in the bed with one thought racing through my mind, “What if I’m not a good dad?” I found myself gripped with fear and anxiety. What did I know about being a parent? I was thirty-nine years old and should be getting ready to be a grandpa not a dad! Needless to say, I wasn’t able to clear my mind or go back to sleep, so I quietly knelt down beside the bed so as to not wake my wife, and I began to pray.

That night, I prayed for everything. I prayed for my son’s health, protection, salvation, his spiritual calling, and even his future wife. I remember asking God to give him a heart that burns with a passion to live a godly life, tell others about Jesus, and meet the needs of the hurting. And then I prayed something I had never said before, “Father, I guess I’m asking you to give me a son like Jesus. A son who loves you, obeys you, seeks to glorify you in all he does.” To be honest, the words came out before I thought them through, so I stopped praying to contemplate what I had just asked for.

Up to that point, praying had eased my fear and anxiety; however, that last line had rekindled the fire of anxiety and put one thought in my fearful mind, “If he is to grow up like Jesus, he needs a father like Jesus’ Father, and I’m not GOD!” With that dark storm cloud of fear hovering over me I cried out, “God, please help me be a good dad!” Immediately a thought rushed into my mind, “Give him Jesus!” Give him the unconditional love of Christ, teach the commands of Christ, show him the love, grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness of Christ, and most of all, live the life of Christ as an example for him.

That dark night of the soul has become a bright beacon on days when I just don’t feel like I’m getting the job done. It is a bright lighthouse shining in the darkness—lighting the way for me to avoid the dangerous rocks of doubt and depression. It is a memory that reminds me that my son doesn’t have to be perfect, nor does his father! Why? Because Jesus is perfect and He is in control of our lives!

Following A Legend

My grandfather died in 1952 when my father was just nine years old. He only had a dad for nine years! I have been blessed with my father for over fifty-one years. For a  man who only had a fatherly example for nine years, he has been the best dad for which I could ever have asked.

He taught me the importance of keeping my word, working hard, taking care of my family, and most importantly about loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. He has tried to live his life in such a way that in him I can see what my Father in heaven is really like. No I don’t think my dad is perfect; however, he has always pointed me to the one Father who is.

Now as a father I am trying to set the same example for my son. I want him to see in me a mere reflection of his Father in heaven. I want my life to demonstrate God’s love, mercy, grace, compassion, righteousness, and justice. I want to be to him what my father was to me, and what his father was to him, and ultimately what God the Father was to His Son.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, but especially to those who reflect the image of our Father in heaven.

My Favorite Christmas Present

Until my son was born, I never realized how much more fun Christmas is when you get to see the surprise on your child’s face. It was always exciting as a child imagining what new toys were under the Christmas tree; however, that excitement doesn’t compare to the joy of seeing Christmas through your child’s eyes.

Each year I have a list of things I would like for Christmas, but I am not really that excited about my gifts. I am thankful for those who cared enough to get me something. Never-the-less, I am always eager for Christmas morning and to see William’s excitement and joy.

This year, I was surprised at one gift I received.  It was by far my favorite gift and memory of Christmas 2011. My wife and son gave me a Hallmark Storybook.  It is entitled, “The Very First Christmas.” What makes it so special is that you can record your voice reading the story. As you turn each page, music plays followed by the recording of the person reading the book. My book was recorded by my seven-year-old, and I LOVE IT!  I have the book sitting on my desk at work so I can listen to it whenever I want.  I am not too sure how long the batteries will last, but as long as they do I will have a recording of my son reading to me about the very first Christmas.

Usually, my favorite part of Christmas is watching others enjoy the gifts that I have given; however, this year my wife and son gave me a priceless gift for which I am truly thankful.

What was your favorite Christmas present or memory?

Can God Hear Me?

This past Sunday, I noticed William was singing very loudly during the song “At the Cross.” I listened carefully as he sang, “At the cross I bow my knee, where Your blood was shed for me, there’s no greater love than this…” As he stood there with his arm around me singing as loud as he could, the smile on my face could not possibly have been any bigger. There we were, father and son, worshipping our Savior together.

 Later that night as I was tucking William into bed, I remarked, “You sure did like the song, At the Cross, that we sang at church this morning.” To which he replied, “Yes, I did, dad, but how did you know?” “Well,” I answered, “I could hear you singing and normally I can’t hear you. What made you decide to sing that song so loudly?” He said, “I was singing loud because I was wondering if God could hear me with so many other people singing.” The depth of his remark surprised me. I never expected a seven year old to think about such things. The unified voices singing praises was so great that William wanted to make sure his voice was heard by Jesus. I reassured him that even if a million people are praying or singing at the same time God is able to hear each and every voice. Everyone is important to God.

 I know there have been times in my life when I didn’t feel like my prayers were making it past the ceiling, let alone up to the throne of heaven. The truth is, our Father in heaven is always ready to talk with us; all we have to do is call out to Him. The Bible tells us that one of Jesus’ roles in heaven is as our intercessor between us and the Father. There are times we want to shout out or to whisper, and other times we sit in silence not knowing what to say, but we can have confidence that God hears us. He hears the pain, fear, sorrow, anxiety, concern, passion, longing, hope, and trust in our prayers. He loves us and longs to not only hear from us, but to share with us His plan for our lives. Don’t let the noise around you keep you from the most important conversation of the day. God can hear you, so pray!