In the days leading up to Easter, my son who has recently taken an interest in, of all things, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations approached his teacher with a request to do a presentation on Easter. His teacher then allowed several of the students in the class to embark on this journey in small groups. Having the preconceived idea that she would see presentations including Peter Cottontail, candy, and baskets, she received the surprise of her life. The presentations were not cartoons at all. These kids proceeded to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the true meaning of Easter!
It's Sunday and we have just arrived home from a weekend getaway in Tennessee. Completely unprepared for what I am about to hear, my little princess who is now not so little says to us, "I want to get baptized." "What was that you said?" I asked. She repeated, "I want to get baptized." I was ill prepared to hear this AWESOME news! "That is great, sissy! When?" was all that I could muster, as I continued to bring luggage from the garage.
It's now Wednesday and the plan is set and I am going to get to help do the honors! I now have time and my attention focused to parse the thoughts of my beautiful daughter, who now has the capacity to make some important life decisions and has chosen to follow the Lord Jesus in obedience to His Will to be baptized in water! I cannot even begin to fill my mouth with expressions of what I feel in my chest! She has never been forced to this decision, only informed as to what it is all about as given in Scripture, but my prayer continually has been, "God, may my kids know that You are their God! May they have a relationship with You all by themselves!" I'm feeling pretty good about how things are going so far with this petition before the Father, and I press on to the mark of this HIGH CALL, that my kids be fully espoused to Christ! I hope between now and Sunday, I can fully realize this moment. For now.... only "WOW!"
It's Sunday, the big day! Though delayed by weather from the original Sunday, we finally arrived. Today, I joined our Pastor in the baptism of my daughter at our local Church. I can't begin to express what I felt looking across the baptistery at my beautiful daughter robed and ready to enter into obedient worship! I know that she could not fully understand or appreciate what she was about to do, but I also know our Heavenly Father must have been even more pleased than I as our daughter stepped into the water to bring full Glory to God!! As quickly as she entered the water, the experience was over. I tried to fully capture every second, in my inner man and on my GoPro. As we began to lay her into the water, I placed my hand on the back of her neck so as to be her protector. I mean, she's going under water, I have to make sure she's safe, haha! When she rose out of the water, I couldn't hold back the smile that exploded from within. Crucified with Christ, nevertheless, she lives! Later that evening, as we talked briefly before bedtime, I said to her, "Watching you grow up so fast is not the easiest thing in the world, but you sure are making it easier." Then, I commenced to express how proud I am of her responsibility and decision-making. I blessed her and then walked out of the room, praising God for everything that I had experienced on this Sunday.
My wife and I continually emphasize the value of trust. It is hard to build, but easily broken. We as parents work to build trust by always being honest and real, and we hope that she as a young lady will continue to live so as to build trust. We assure her that her home life will be better as our trust in her remains. For now, she has done well! I praise God for her and for this day! May she continue this walk to glorify and honor the Name of the Father, of the Son , and of the Holy Spirit!
My goal as father and husband is to build a beautiful family culture in my home. I like to keep things interesting and surprising, to keep love-in-action as an regular occurrence for my kids and my wife. So for this latest surprise, my son and I had a weekend home, while mommy and sissy traveled away for a cheering competition. My daughter's Celtics team brought home 1st place in 2 categories, so we made a little banner to welcome them home and celebrate their accomplishment.
What can I do on a Saturday morning to put my wife and family back in their proper place in my priorities? Clearly, I am the person that continues to forget. This tends to be the case during weeks full of things that scream for my attention. No excuses, priority is priority! I must not neglect my God, my wife, or my family! So this morning, I decided to listen to the voice of my wife from weeks past... "How about breakfast in bed?" Sure, it was her idea, we regularly and freely communicate each others needs. But I must confess here that I am usually the one who forgets, and as a result have to constantly re-prioritize! It's a weakness that I must work on!
Dr. Larry Crabb in his book Men & Women: Enjoying the Difference, writes that our #1 enemy in marriage is self-centeredness and therefore other-centeredness is the goal! Interestingly enough, Paul says it this way, "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies" (Ephesians 5:28 NIV), and in Mark 12, Jesus commands us to love other... how? as thyself! So other-centered living, though not a natural way of life in our culture, is what we need to keep in the front of our minds and hearts.
I rose this morning to God's new mercy and first spent time with Him, then prepared a nice breakfast for my wife to enjoy in bed! Cream of wheat and buttered toast were the special of the day, served on a cooking pan.... you know, because we don't have a tray. It took me longer to clean up the mess I made in the microwave than to actually prepare the meal. Afterwards, I prepared a second order made for a Princess! I need to set the standard for what a man and husband should be in the life of my daughter! Hopefully, this will ensure that no scummy low-life.........nevermind! :) So both my girls got breakfast in bed this morning. And as for my son, he got his ever-desired Chocolate Milk .... with extra chocolate!
I am quite sure that I will get my priorities out of line again, but there will always be a repentance and re-calibration of priorities to position my God, my wife, and my family at the top of my time and attention! In addition, I must always face the fact that the tendency towards self-centered living is ever before me and consistently work to get out of the rut and think of others! Thanks be unto God for His mercy and grace! We all should be free to extend mercy and grace to others! Love does cover a MULTITUDE of sin!
Many times, I have said to my kids, "I may not always guarantee your happiness, but you can guarantee I will always do my utmost to keep you safe!" Protection for my kids is one of my top priorities, and I am always cognisant of the fact that I, as father, have a primary responsibility in this. While still living in a world where tragedy often knocks at the door of "good people," there has to be something I can do to give my utmost for the safety and protection of my children!
Job's story in the Bible is often related to human suffering, but as I read his story, I find that had the test of his character not been allowed by God, this story looks completely different. Job lived a life before God in such a way that He (God) had all things covered or better said.... hedged! He was doing a great job of keeping his kids safe!
Check out this short exerpt from my last sermon!