“Somewhere over the North Atlantic…” perhaps an opening phrase second only to the immortal “It was a dark and stormy night” penned in 1830 by Edward Bulyer-Lytton which became the name of a literary contest for the worst in this extreme style of writing. But, none-the-less, I begin with ‘Somewhere over the North Atlantic” because that is exactly where I am as I write this installment of A Ministry Minute. A drawback perhaps because where I am right now has little consequence as to what I desire to express to you and that is “A Son.”
In olden times, a son to be born was critical for carrying on the birth name; bring workers to the fields even when there are too few crops to bring in and scarce crops with which to feed the livestock much less the family. In northwestern Romania just a couple of years ago I would watch as sun bronzed older women would ride on rickety old hay wagons with their rickety old husbands, armed only with scythe and sickle out to face 100 acres of hay to be felled. Sons, if there had been any, long since gone for university or to another country to find work. And all day they would toil, this dynamic duo of husband and wife, confident that at the end of the day their hay wagon would be full, their milk cow and wagon horse fed; that they would sit by their window, with their bowl of mostly broth soup and dream of better days when a son’s laughter filled their scant home and his piercing eyes would show his mother the secret desires of his soul.
Over thirty years ago, now, my wife and I awaited our first child’s birth. So many asked if I hoped for a son when all I hoped for was a healthy baby. Secretly, however, I longed for a daughter. Growing up with three brothers and no sisters, I longed for a daughter. God blessed us with three wonderful daughters and eventually added even to that through very special exchange students who came into our homes, hearts and lives. Eventually, God did give me a son; a remarkably wonderful son who is everything a father could ask of a son and so much more. It isn’t because of his attributes that I love him it is because he is my son. That son turned 18 just the other day. I cannot believe it has gone by so quickly, except for when I look into a mirror. Very soon my son leaves for a military career. This, much to his mother’s dismay is not a loosening of the apron strings, it is a full-fledged ripping them out at the seams. Although, I know that the truest bonds will never be torn, not really; just time and distance will come between us, that is all; not anything of substance, for time and distance are relative, particularly when someone is held within your heart so closely. I cannot in these few lines begin to express what this young man means to me, how proud I am of his heart.
I can never love my son more than God loves Him, because God is Love. My son and I have grown so very close these 18 years, but we can never be as close as God’s Son Christ and God the Father are because Christ and the Father are One. More than 18 years of experiences together, Father and Son have shared eternity past up until the day that God the Father sent His Son to be a living sacrifice for us, their creation gone wrong. When I take my son to the Military Enlistment and Processing Station for his departure to his boot camp; I know that within a few weeks I will see him again. Maybe just a short time but I will see him, hug and kiss him. God, the Father, knew that He was sending His Son into the world incarnate to grow up and live as one of the creatures not the Creator. Father God knew that the next time He would hold His Son would be after He had watched as Hs Son, beaten, bruised, battered, ridiculed, slandered and sacrificed.
I have come to realize that part of the pride I take in my son serving in the military is a reflection on how much I love my country. I am willing to send my son to help protect her and I know it may come at a great cost. Absolutely, I know, that if I did not have that kind of love for my country, I could never accept what my son and his mother, family and I must sacrifice to let him go.
This love of mine for my country is only a faint shadow of how much God loves His creation, us; or else He could never have allowed His only Son to make such a sacrifice. It was a great sacrifice for Father God and the Holy Spirit to see Him go. They sacrificed a part of themselves to see Him sacrificed. That is a love so amazing, so divine that mere words can never express it.
I wrote that God gave me three daughters, then He added our first student – now pseudo adopted daughter and with all four of them, God has given me more sons. I love these sons with a love as rich as if they were my own. I realize that I have never known of anyone s being ‘un-adopted” and as I have ‘adopted’ my sons-in-law (or as my mother would have said, sons-in-love) regardless of whatever happens in this life, they will be my sons. I will never stop loving them just as I will never stop loving my first son. That fact assures me of my salvation. Once accepted, I’ll never be rejected! God’s great love, so much greater than my own has adopted me as His son (see Paul’s letter to the Ephesians) and seated me in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
So, somewhere over the North Atlantic, my mind wanders not only hundreds of miles away but thousands of years in the past. I want to squeeze every minute of every day between now and the time my son leaves for the Army. I believe that this is what God the Father wants to do with us in our relationship to Him. I believe He longs to savor every moment in our lives here with anticipation of our lives with Him. What an incredible thought!