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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


My little boy became a man today.

The first time I saw you, you were tiny – I know, it only lasted a few days, but believe me, tiny is the word for it. Blue eyes and red hair that later became blonde. A boy. I was so relieved and happy.

I know you’ve heard the story before, but I’m surprised you didn’t decide to become a pilot, or an acrobat – considering the fact that you were flying and tumbling through the air just days before you were born. That car wreck resulted in a few ugly bumps and bruises for me, and your three-week-early arrival. I was so glad to see you there, and I counted all your fingers and toes at least ten times that first couple of days.

I still can’t believe that it’s been eighteen years since I first laid eyes on you.

When you were still very small, you thought books were for singing. You would stand with us in your grandpa’s little church and hold the song book open – singing with all your might. When we’d go home, you’d drag out your sister’s story books and carry them through the house. When I tried to get you to sit for a story, you’d open the book and sing, instead. Happily, you figured out that books are so much more.

I remember the day I walked by the door of your bedroom, and heard you reading the short sentences. I wish I knew what book that was. We worked so hard with you, and one day – that day, everything just seemed to click. You were reading, and you haven’t stopped since. Today you count books as treasures, and you understand the impact word can have on your world. You can use them as tools to relate and persuade. You have learned my lessons well.

You were a talkative little boy – you asked questions everywhere we went. I hope I never forget the day we got our first puppy. You were about three years old. We grabbed the leash, put on three sets of little shoes, and your dad, your sisters, you and I took off around the block. Sarah and Jericho skipped along and picked flowers and explored the yards along our street. You ran alongside your dad and I -- asking questions.

“We take Pepper for a walk?” “That Pepper’s leash?” “We gonna stop yet?” “Daddy go with us?” “We come back?” “That’s the sidewalk?” “Pepper gonna live in our house?” “We stay out of the street?” “I hold leash?” “Hold your hand?” “That a car down there?” “Pepper likes me?”

At the tender age of nine, you knew God wanted to use you. You worked hard, and raised an incredible amount of money for your first missions trip to Ireland. I still remember how it felt to let go of you after one last hug, and watch you board that plane. Then, we could still accompany you to the gate, and then watch the plane taxi, and take off – disappearing into the clouds. Your dad held me close as we watched until we couldn’t see even the smallest black speck, and then I cried. Eleven days later, you stepped off that plane a very different little boy. Older, wiser, more compassionate – and I grabbed you up in a fierce hug, and sat down right there on the floor to hold you on my lap for a while. I wish I’d known then how quickly you’d outgrow my lap – I’d have held you a little longer.

You still come in from work every afternoon, and come find me for a hug. That’s almost as good as holding you on my lap, and I wouldn’t trade those squeezes for anything in the world.

Within the past couple of years, I’ve watched you as you’ve begun to choose your path. I rejoiced with you when you got the call that you’d been accepted for the Teen Mania internship. That purpose and direction has helped you focus, and strengthen your resolve. In a year, you’ll have graduated, and in a little more than that, you will be leaving home. I am confident that you will find your way, and face each choice with faith and strength.

When I held you in my arms on that day eighteen years ago, I had no idea what a strong, gentle, funny and compassionate man you would become. Now I look at you, and I can see those qualities shining through. You have learned to serve others, and to work hard. You are touched by the pain of humanity, and your friends seek you out for caring advice, and encouragement about the love and faithfulness of God.

You are soft hearted under that tough exterior, son. That is as it should be. As you grow in strength and determination, remember to be gentle with yourself. Accept the grace Christ bled to offer you. It speaks so loudly of His great love.
If I’ve taught you anything, I hope it’s that you are most effective when others see how much mercy you need, and that God gives you more than enough because of His great love for you. Be a mercy billboard, my son. That is where your greatness lies.

And as you ready yourself, your maps and papers, your plans and charts, and set your compass heading for the future God has promised you, never forget where you came from. In time, you will use that same compass to find your way home, if only for a while. I will be waiting here for you – to hug you, and hold you, and shortly push you out again into tomorrow – where your greatness calls you forward and you witness God at work on every hand. It’s what you’ve been preparing for since that morning, eighteen years ago. Soon you’ll be on your way:

The days pass with their own rhythm
Flowing relentlessly toward the sea
You look the same today as you did the day before
Through the mist of ocean spray
But I know better
The surf pounds against the shore
Calling out your name
And you are ready to set sail
Time sets its own course
Yesterday is a closed harbor
Tomorrow is the only port of call
So do not linger here on the shore with me
It’s time to take to the water
Do not worry
Your compass will bring you home
When the winds change
I’ll be waiting for you here on the sand

Happy birthday, Jotham.


Amydeanne said...

what a wonderful post! I hope he had a happy birthday!
Thanks for visiting my blog, and bbk after my move to visit again!!

susan said...

What a lovely tribute. I can't believe how quickly they go from a squirming little bundle to a real person.

Happy Birthday Johtham!

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