His son was his joy. He loved to hold him and take care of him. The weeks passed and so did the months, until his son finally began to walk. What a delight to have his little boy follow him around the house. Each day was better than the previous. Then one day he was told that he and his wife, with their son, must appear in court. They went as commanded. At the conclusion of the proceedings, someone picked up his son, walked across the courtroom and out a door. That was the last time he ever saw his son. A large portion of his heart was ripped out of his body at that moment. The anguish he has experienced not many have known.
It has probably been six months that he has been attending our church at the nursing home. He has amazed us with his love for the Lord Jesus and knowing so many of the old hymns. I’m guessing he is in his seventies. Tall and thin, he still gets around quite well with a walker or cane. It might be that those size-twelve boots add to his stability, but if not, he keeps himself upright through sheer determination.
He has trouble speaking, and you have to listen carefully to understand him. That doesn’t seem to bother him, though, even if I ask him to repeat something. He has a room to himself, and it is quite full with furniture that the county brought over from his house.
Several weeks ago he was telling me about how he had set his room up, so I walked down the hall with him to look at it. The couch was strategically placed at one end of the room. He went on to tell me about how he moved his two dressers and his reasons for placing them just so. I cautioned him about moving such heavy things alone. With a twinkle in his eye, he said how the staff didn’t want him to, but he could do it just fine by himself.
He has a picture of his wife and him on the opposite wall from his bed. He will tear-up just about every time he speaks of her passing away. They didn’t have much, but they had each other and the Lord Jesus.
One Sunday coming home from church, I was telling the family about my conversation with him, just minutes earlier. I shared about our discussion and that at the end, he said how he prays every day for his son’s walk with the Lord. He has no idea where his son is, but he also prays that someday he will be able to see him again. As I tried to finish telling the family what he had told me, that he has trusted God . . . I just couldn’t get all the words out without breaking down. I finally sort of squeaked out that he was trusting God with his son.
I almost can’t even write this because my heart feels like it is in a vise. This man of God has suffered so deeply for all these years. He has been able to deal with his grief through his faith in God. I detect no bitterness. I think if there were any, it would have killed him by now.
I share this story because I felt there was a powerful lesson for each of us. He had his son taken from him many, many years ago. He has not been able to do anything for his son except pray—and pray he has. He would have given everything he has to exchange places with any of us dads. He wanted to have children around him—to love them, hold them, and teach them. I’m convinced that no matter what your circumstances, he would gladly change places with you in a heartbeat.
Dad, how do you look at your wife and children? Are they your delight or a burden? Are you excited to be able to spend time with them? Do you spend time with them, and what do you do with them?
My friend could do nothing to disciple and shape his son. What are we doing to disciple our children? Are we leading our family in a daily Bible time? Are we spending meaningful one-on-one time with them? Have you gladly forsaken “your” time for time with your family?
When my friend stands before the Lord Jesus someday to give account for his life, with a clear conscience he will be able to say he did everything he could to raise his son in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Will we be able to say that? While there is still time, may we turn our hearts to our children and have an active daily role in shaping their lives. “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6).