(This brief talk was prepared for a knot of men, mostly from Indianapolis’ Church at the Crossing, who refuse to stop meeting at a Perkins restaurant on Thursdays at the ungodly hour of 6:30 a.m. for no discernible reason except to sing one song badly off-key, drink more coffee than is good for them, and hear talks like this one.)
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This coming Sunday is Father’s Day and I’m a father, so I’m claiming this one.
I’ve not only got two sons, I’ve got two sons in uniform: ‘C’ is an infantry officer at Fort Benning, Georgia; ‘J’ a combat engineering officer at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Both will likely be deployed to a hot spot next year.
But my wife’s car now has four stars on the back of it. Her ‘T’ recently finished up his time in the Army and is re-entering civilian life. ‘R’ will be deployed to Afghanistan this year.
Together, we’ve got skin in the game, both as father and mother and in the geopolitical sense: we watch the news out of the world’s hot spots with a little more attention because of our connection with this country’s military through four sons who serve.
Today, it’s almost Father’s Day and I’m just going to talk about the sons in our blended family that I can claim as my own: C and J.
They’re really big guys now. Just yesterday, they were ‘wittle’.
C and J were born only 13 months apart. When their mother became pregnant with J, I really wondered whether I was capable of loving another child as much as I already loved C. That concern didn’t last two seconds after J was born. I instantly loved both, differently yet each as much as the other.
C and J are very different and have always been so: I remember when they were the new, little guys at the indoor soccer court in Costa Rica. When they felt impatient about being on the sidelines, I told them the thing to do was to stand close to the coach and stay mentally involved in the game so that he’d notice them and put them in. One hung back against the wall, the other stood comically straight right beside the coach, looking up at him out of the corners of his eyes with a look that all but shouted, ‘Put me in! Put me in!’
That is now a long time ago. C and J are all grown up and out on their own. One is married, the other is pursuing what looks like a long-term relationship. Both fuel a quiet sense of pride in their Dad’s heart as he stumbles about the task of learning how to be the father of two adult sons.
As Father’s Day approaches, I have some hopes for my sons. I thought I’d share some of them with you today.
- I hope they’ll be noble, but never pompous.
- I hope they’ll have enough to live on and to provide both for their own and for others who have less, but I don’t wish riches on them.
- I hope they’ll develop thick skin, but always maintain a soft heart.
- I hope they’ll be good leaders, but great followers.
- I hope they’ll be self-denying in life and in battle, but stay alive and whole through it all.
- I hope they’ll say just enough, but always do what they say.
- I hope they’ll love and serve Christ with all their strength, but never be too pious.
- I hope they’ll love what is great about the United States of America, but always honor and affirm what is good in other people and other nations.
- I hope they’ll never have to kill another human being, but I hope God will help them forget the moment if they do.
- I hope they’ll know the love of one woman, and that her love will last a lifetime.
- I hope they’ll always want to understand, more than they care about being understood.
- I hope they’ll blow things up if they must, but that they’ll put more things together.
- I hope they’ll always be kind to people and animals.
- I hope they’ll bring their families to Dad’s and Karen’s place in the mountains of Costa Rica, and that my grandkids will ask them how cool it was to grow up there.
- I hope they’ll read often and widely so they never fall for the lie that their time and place is more important than all others.
- I hope they’ll have three friends who stick closer than brothers.