Friends, Here is #3 in my series “Being Dad”. This one reflects on the love that God has for his children. My conclusion is that God’s love for his children cannot be anything less than my love for my children. jery
Little Boys’ Socks
God loves His children even more than they can possibly imagine.
1 John 3:1
I was at my very first church when Jerry was born. I was a weekend youth minister in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I was at my first full-time pulpit ministry when Samuel was born in Petersburg, West Virginia. I was in Chester, West Virginia when Jacob was born.
Jerry was born in a hospital that had all of the latest electronic amenities and medical technology and since Renee was a high-risk pregnancy, we had all the best doctors that Medicaid could buy. Sparrow Hospital, Michigan State University Doctors, and a relatively easy first birth. Well, it was easy for me…there was a ball game on at the time and when it hurt I simply told Renee, being the good coach that I was, to just sleep. Surely that would make the pain subside.
Samuel was a little more difficult, but definitely quicker. (I will have more to say about this later in another post.) He was born in a small rinky-dink hospital that reminded Renee and I both of the stable where Jesus was born. There was no doctor on duty that could give Renee an epidural. In fact, her doctor was out of town. Samuel was delivered naturally. And since I got Renee to the hospital rather late, I felt every single one of her pains…twice.
Jacob was probably the most fun. With Jacob, like Jerry, Renee drove herself to the hospital (again, more on why this is important in another post). The hospital was your everyday run of the mill hospital that boasted of the lowest C-section rate in the state of Ohio. Being close to home was important because my mom and my mother-in-law were both present. It was a special occasion for all of us.
All three of those days are magical days in the limited expanse of gray matter that clutters up my mind. I hold very few precious memories, but of the ones that I do hold, these three rank first, first, and first. Now my little baby boys are 9, 6, and 4 (and as I update this, 15, 12, and 10!) and I sit around at times wondering where in heaven those years went. Did I miss them? Did I do enough? Was I a beneficial example? Did I in anyway inhibit their growth? Did I do everything in my power to make certain my sons were loved, safe, warm, fed and protected? Have I shown them Jesus each day?
My mom is probably about 45, which is odd because I am nearing 32. But that is what she keeps on saying, and I was always taught never to call my mamma a liar. Nevertheless, she is, and I am. She made me a book a year ago for Christmas. In the book are all sorts of things about her life and mine. I was her firstborn. She talks about how I was her ‘experiment’ and things like that. (I still wonder what project I was and what experiment I was in.) I wonder what sort of emotions and feelings ran through my mother’s eyes and heart when she was assembling the various pages in the book? Did she laugh at this picture? Did she cry at that one? Did she remember life with fond affection when she saw another one? Recall how the Bible records that when Jesus was young Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart?” I think that is what parents do in every generation. These little things that aggravate or perplex us now are the things that later on are so tender, so precious that we cannot possibly let them go. These treasures literally become our lifeblood, our sanity. They are the reason why we keep living: we are afraid the memories might die if we do. (Yes, someday I will laugh that Jerry thought he was an electrician when he was 2. And yes, I will laugh someday that Samuel ‘ran away’ from home when he was 2. And yes, I will laugh someday that Jacob was riding a two-wheeler when he was barely 3.)
Every now and again Renee and I will get ambitious and sort through some old boxes. Usually we end up throwing stuff away that no longer charges the batteries of these memories. This sort of stuff has become useless clutter that no longer begs our attention. Anyhow…every now and again Renee and I get ambitious. When we do, we usually find something that will remind us of those days when our boys were tiny. A lock of hair. A toy. A blanket. Things of that nature. You know what I mean because you probably have your own little box of stuff that serves the same purpose. It serves no real purpose except to cause us to remember days gone by when life was simpler.
Laundry is always exciting, but it is also sad. I notice that the socks are getting bigger and bigger with each passing month.
Being Dad has taught me how much God really loves his children. Especially me.
I have another precious memory. It is the memory of going through one of Jerry’s boxes of stuff and coming across a tiny, itty-bitty, baby sock, a sock so small they could be a glove for my thumb. So tiny they barely would cover my big toes. Every time I see one of those tiny, baby-boy socks I am carried back to Sparrow, back to Petersburg, back to East Liverpool. I am carried back to those times when my boys were so small I could carry them in one hand. Renee and I typically just look at one another and say something corny like, “Awww.”
God feels the same exact way when He looks at us because just as Jerry, Samuel and Jacob will always be my baby boys, so too are we always God’s children. I want to believe that when God looks down upon His Children He has every reason to look down with the same tenderness, affection and love with which I look upon my own Children. And I am certain He does because how can a father feel any other way about his children?
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
I imagine that when my children are my age and I am my mother’s age the roles will be reversed a little. I will be sharing my memories of their lives in books, and they will be tending to their own children and laughing or crying with their wives over tiny little socks that they have saved.
Being a dad has taught me just exactly how much God really loves me. If I love my three sons as much as I do, and if I protect them as much as I possibly can, and if I cherish them as much as I do, can I expect or even think that God does anything less? No. I hope you cherish precious memories, but even if you cannot, I hope you know that you are cherished as God’s own Child. He has a whole host of memories from the time you took your first step in a tiny pair of socks.