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                My son turns 13 today (April 12.) I cannot believe that I am now the father of a teenager. I can believe that he has turned out to be such a great son and person. I could tell that he was going to be that from the first moment I held him. I prayed over him and asked God to make him into a man that He would be proud of. I also asked God, what He was thinking making me a father? I prayed that I would also be a dad the He could be proud of. I don’t know if I have accomplished the father bit, but I know Caleb is well on his way to accomplishing his part of my prayer.

            Caleb is the first of our miracle kids. Jennifer and I did not expect to actually have kids. The doctors told us that it would be very difficult for us. We tried all kinds of medical interventions, none of which worked. Jennifer took it much harder than I, and I am not sure that I offered her as much support as she needed. What I did offer her was a pot of Gumbo and a trip to Kennesaw Mountain one Saturday. She got sick and blamed the gumbo. I took exception to that. A few days later she went to her doctor. She came and picked me up from work that day with something obviously on her mind. She did not want to tell me right away, which just worried me. Then she gave me the news. We were going to have a child. By this time, we had quit all the medical stuff. This was pure God. In case you were wondering, it was not my gumbo that made her sick – it was Caleb. We still laugh about that.

            I absolutely love this boy. He is one of the things that I am most proud of. I love being his dad. I hope he loves having me as his dad. I once preached a sermon, when I was much younger, based on God calling us Hid children. One of my points was how much I loved when my dad called me “son.” I loved it because I was the only person that Samuel Johnston could truthfully say that about. Many people could call me Marty, boy, dude, or strange person standing over there, but only one person could call me son and actually mean it. It was my favorite thing that my dad ever called me. I hope Caleb feels the same. He is my son. The only one that I have. I can call him something that no other man can ever say to him. I take that as a huge responsibility.

            I am proud of this boy. I am proud that in so many ways he is better than I am. I know that he is smarter than me (luckily, not yet wiser.) He cares about others so much more than I do. His heart is much softer than mine has ever been. I know that his heart and emotions sometimes leads him to pain I never feel, and that someday someone may take advantage of that and hurt him, but I would not ever ask that God would harden it. I know his heart will lead him to do things for others that I could not even dream of doing. I cannot wait to see where God leads him and what God uses him for. I will be one proud dad with whatever God moves him to do. My favorite picture of him was taken at a church that I served. It is a Christmas picture. He is wearing a shirt and tie and standing at the podium of the church, smiling at the camera like he just preached a sermon. I can only hope that one day that he does preach sermons. He will be better at it than I am.

            I believe that what I am most excited about for Caleb is that he is not just my son, but he is also my brother. At an early age, he asked Jesus into his heart. We were super excited about it, and we made sure he was serious about it. We even asked a lady at the church we were serving at, Barbara Tatum, to talk to him to just make sure. She came back just as excited as we were. She had no doubts about his salvation. On one of my greatest days, I was privileged to baptize him.

            I truly believe that children are a gift from God. A gift that is not meant to be used or ignored, but nurtured into something special. At least once a year I go back and read Ephesians 5 and 6, just to make sure I am doing the best that I can with my family. I take Paul’s words to heart. I try to love my wife as Christ loved the church, and I try not to stir up anger in my kids. I fail at both sometimes, but I am grateful that I have a Father that does not, and also forgives me when I do. I am thankful that my heavenly Father and my earthly father have shown me what a dad should look and act like. I hope I am doing the same for Caleb.

            Caleb I love you and am proud of you. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for you. I pray that I do everything that I can to help make that happen. Happy birthday, son.

MJ

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