But that's not the most important reason I am smiling, not by a long shot. Today is my oldest son Jay's twenty-first birthday. It's hard to believe that twenty-one years ago, Merideth and I welcomed Jay into the world and into our lives. We were not much older then than Jay is now, which is a serious commentary on the crazy fast passage of time.
I'm proud of my son and all of his accomplishments. I love that he is also a young man of faith--strong faith that has been tested and tried. I have always believed that he will do great things for the kingdom of God, and I can't wait to cheer him on as he discovers God's purpose and will for his life.
Today I am reminded of the words of the psalmist in Psalm 127:
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.The last part of that verse is interesting, isn't it? "He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate." This ancient turn of phrase gives the impression that the man in question is sitting down with people who don't have his best interests at heart, to say the least. He needs to project an air of strength and capability--to ensure that his enemies know he is not a man to be trifled with, or taken advantage of.
The man's strength, his character and his integrity are on display in his children. They are living, breathing symbols of the legacy he's created--a legacy that will outlive him, and be carried on to future generations.
He may have made mistakes in his life. He may have stumbled along the way, maybe even fallen down from time to time, but in the end he will not be put to shame because whatever good, true and faithful things he's been able to pass down to his children will live on within them.
I've not always been the best father. I've said and done really dumb things in front of my sons. I've made mistakes, and I've had to ask their forgiveness more than once. I know that there are probably some things I've passed down to them that will not serve them all that well.
But my hope and my prayer is that the one thing they will always remember, always carry with them is the knowledge that they are loved by their heavenly Father infinitely more than their earthly father could ever love them.
When I see my twenty-one year old son becoming a man right before my eyes, and I am filled with intense pride at who he is and will be--I am brought to my knees in humility. I don't deserve such good boys, but God in his grace and mercy has given me a quiver full of them. I am blessed.
If you are a parent, parent-figure or grand-parent may you be encouraged and strengthened in your ministry to your children and grandchildren. May you feel the love and grace of your heavenly Father today, and know that you are loved beyond measure. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.