Paying attention to the margins

Who does God receive? The ones without status. The ones society doesn’t recognize.

Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17)

As Dad

As a dad, I watch all these stages of life in our kids. Our youngest just turned 21 and we are all together as a family celbrating Christmas and the coming of our first grandchild. My wife and I are with our three sons, two daughters-in-law, and one awesome grandson. (Have I mentioned I have a grandson yet?)

As a dad I have all these thoughts flow through my mind as I look at each one. I will sit in a corner of the living room at my oldest son’s home holding my new grandson and listen to the conversation going around the table a few feet away. A flood of memories come through as I remember holding each one as an infant. Remembering ball games and plays… times at church… vacations together… the highs and the lows.

As a dad I have a flood of thoughts remembering how badly I did things as a dad. So many times when my temper was too much or my focus was in the wrong direction… And how God graciously brought me back and the goodness of God overcame the faults in my life and there is joy around that table that evening as I sit holding my grandson. God’s grace overcame my bad parenting flaws to produce three amazing sons who love Jesus, two daughters-in-law who are the best to me, who also love Jesus, along with a godly wife carrying us all… and I am so thankful.

As a dad I have all these thoughts flood through me in what seems to be seconds… and then, when I finally the get the chance to actually say something to each of them, it comes out in about three words or less!

“I love you.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“Good job.”

Words that formulated in my mind… words I might be able to craft on a page… good grief! I can formulate a SERMON!… but when I get the chance to say something directly to my kids… I choke up. I am overwhelmed. Tears come easily. And all I can choke out is, “I love you.”

As a dad, I live my life praying they all know how much I deeply love them, how proud I am of them, and how thankful I am to God for the beautiful results that came in spite of a very flawed man trying to lead them.

A few years back I mentioned to a friend that with my two youngest boys getting ready to graduate high school I would probably spend the next five years just crying all the time because I was so proud. My friend said, “Only five years? Try the rest of your life.” She was right.

As a dad, I sit back and reflect on the goodness of God in the lives of these “kids”, tears come readily, and all I can breathe out is, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Great is his faithfulness. Even if I can’t say more than three words at a time.

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Transitions

There are always transitions we deal with in life.

Almost three years ago I went through a huge transition in one night as I realized our boys were in a completely different stage of life. It was weird that night, but I knew it was just a time of life for me and have enjoyed that transition.

We shifted gears again this week as we took our second son to college. We moved him into the dorms at University of Minnesota Duluth yesterday. He has prepared for a year in his own transition. He had to lay out a year to work hard and get the money together. We left a very determined young man in Duluth. He knows his calling and is ready for this next stage.

One incredible blessing we received the minute we arrived on campus was current students who were ready to help unload vehicles and get the new students right into their dorm rooms. Two of those students who first met Josiah were part of InterVarsity Fellowship, an on-campus Christian group. Immediately Josiah had a connection to some great Christian friends. We had lunch with friends who were dropping their daughter off at UMD and we learned that the two young ladies from InterVarsity knew the daughter that was coming. It was a great blessing for my wife and I to see God make some quick connections for our son so he could get right in and feel at home.

Two sons completely away from home is a new transition for us. It is a time that brings some tears, but it is a time of hope. It is a time of trust. We are deeply thankful to the Lord for what he has started in the lives of all three of our boys. He will indeed complete that work in them!