|courtesy of photobucket.com|
I had to run by work before the 8:30 a.m. service, and when I finally arrived, Lisa and the two boys waited for me in our usual position on the left side of the sanctuary. I noticed the festive holiday decorations surrounding us and also thought it odd that both boys had stayed for the sermon. Recently Luke had wanted to hear the preacher, but the younger Thomas still preferred his normal class.
This morning was different.
I stood next to my wife as our praise team sang and Luke immediately crawled across his mother to assume his place by my side. Thomas didn't move, but I coaxed him over with a discreet hand wave so that attention to both could be dispensed fairly and evenly.
Finally we sat down as the pastor began to preach. At the conclusion of his sermon, the men stepped forward to serve communion. Both boys fought their heavy eyelids as they leaned in against my shoulders. I stared blankly ahead at the white lights shining about the tall Christmas tree on stage.
Then Luke opened his mouth, as he often does, to ask a question.
"Be quiet," I said abruptly and noticed the hurt in his eyes as he recoiled. Immediately I reached for his leg with my left hand. I grasped it just above his knee hoping to squeeze it lightly enough to declare my true affection potentially obscured by the harsh rebuke.
Suddenly, I thought of Abraham from long ago and Isaac's fear as he lay beneath the drawn dagger of his aging father. I thought of a wayward prodigal wondering if his father would take him back. I thought of the man they called Jesus groaning out his last breaths impaled to a Roman cross while crying out in pain for the Father who knew him best.
I thought about the desperation my sons would encounter if forsaken by their own father-the man that should love them most.
And so, there I sat with these two, living metaphors pressed against me on both sides...
I thought of their births and how far we had come together.
Wanting to believe in this Heavenly Father
Wondering how it could all be true...
He could really even love me at all...
I John 3:1
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!