Slip-n-Slide Theology

“Daddy, I want you to go first!” said my three-year-old son, Micah.

“But I didn’t bring my suit bud.” Not to mention that I didn’t want to go down the Slip-n-Slide we’d just set up in my parent’s yard.

“Daddy please!” *cue giant puppy dog eyes.*

Little did I know that God was about to use my three-year-old son to teach me a profound lesson.

Under silent protest, I went inside to find something I didn’t mind getting wet. I knew Micah didn’t get it and was afraid, and that he needed me to show him how it’s done. I came back out, got a running start and splashed down the slide. My son went right after me and we couldn’t keep him off it for hours.

We were at my parent’s house that weekend for a much-needed change of scenery. My wife and I have been walking through an extremely difficult situation, dealing with uncertainty, betrayal, and hurt that has stretched our faith and our marriage but has also made us stronger. While we have peace that passes understanding from God, we are dealing with bitterness and anger.

At the height of our turmoil, Micah refused to go down the Slip-n-Slide. But after I showed him how, he looked at us and said, “I watched daddy go first and now I’m brave.”

And God used that to speak to me in one of the most powerful ways I’ve ever experienced.

In that moment I needed the reminder that I watched God go first. Mankind has rebelled against him since the creation, yet God made a way to reconcile us. Jesus was spit on, abused, betrayed, tortured, and killed, and yet from the cross He prayed, “forgive them Father.” He looks at the depths of my own rebellion and, by faith, sees Christ’s righteousness, a grace I don’t deserve.

Because I watched my God go first, I can be brave to forgive others too. When I am tempted to harbor bitterness against those who have wronged me, I remember that God went first and died for me while I was yet a sinner. Thank God that, in Christ, “…we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Jesus suffered all and much more than we suffer in this earthly life, yet he knew no sin. Knowing no sin, he was able to be sin for us that we may become the righteousness of God. And because God did that for us, we can forgive others. May we rest in the debt He paid for us so that we may be empowered to forgive our debtors.

Children and Sanctification

37969538_10104502112143528_5810828865857126400_nMy son Micah is a fun kid.  We have a blast together. He’s my little buddy and I’m his “buddy daddy.” He’s full of energy and never runs out of things to say. I absolutely love being his dad. Recently someone asked me what I do, and I told them about being in ministry, but I also said “but more than anything I’m a husband and a dad. I love my family more than anything.”

As amazing a Micah is, and as much fun as I have with him, he is still a toddler. He has the seemingly innate ability to push me to the limits of my patience. Whether it’s potty training mishaps, throwing things (soft things!) at his 6-week old sister, or just not listening to me or his mom, I find myself losing my patience often.

It’s interesting because I’ve always thought I am a kind and patient person. So my tendency is to pass the blame. “He just doesn’t listen. I used to be patient, but now he’s made me lose my patience more often.” But it’s not his fault at all, is it? The truth is he doesn’t make me do anything… he just reveals what is already there. When Micah makes me angry, it reveals an area where I need to learn to be slow to anger. When I lose my patience, he has helped reveal an area where I need to learn grace.

Since I became a dad in February 2016, I have been awestruck by the sanctifying nature of children. I thank God that I have received the gift of my two kids, not only because they are a joy, but because they are a measure of His grace. Through my children, God reveals sin in my life, which allows me to repent of that sin and become more like Him.

We parents love the beginning part of Ephesians 6, which tells children to obey their parents. But the fourth verse turns the command inward, where it tells us to not provoke our children to anger. God calls us to be sanctified continuously, becoming more like Him, the God who is ever slow to anger with His children.

Whether or not you have children, we are all called to be sanctified by His Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” We can take heart that the Spirit is transforming us day by day! May we seek the Lord continuously that we may be in tune with the Spirit and allow Him to sanctify us.

I want to be like my son when I grow up

My son Micah is 18-months old, and he is amazing. I knew I would love being a dad, but I had no idea how much I would love it until Micah was born. I also didn’t fully realize how much having a kid would sanctify me. I’ve had to learn patience and grace in a whole new way. But what I was truly not expecting was how much Micah would teach me. The other day in IKEA, I learned how much I want to be like Micah.

I am proud of Micah for some silly things. Like “eating 3 pieces of chicken” and “pooping.” But in IKEA, I had never been prouder. Our family has spent the last month transitioning from Spartanburg, SC to Hampton, VA. In the meantime, we are living with my parents in Richmond. Since we decided to give our couches away before we left Spartanburg, we went to IKEA in Northern Virginia to seek out our new couch.

Arriving at the store was the typical “do you want to ride in the cart or walk? Oh… you want to PUSH the cart. Awesome.” He wanted to push elevator buttons. He tried to flush fake toilets. He was all over the place, and it was slightly annoying, but mostly just fun.

As I was following Micah around, he began interacting with the multitude of children populating the living section. And that’s when I realized he was my role model.

He walked up to a pair of chairs and wanted to sit in one. In the other chair sat a little girl who appeared about a year older than him. Her father was a few feet away, holding a newborn. Her mother stood close by, wearing a hijab that covered most of her face. Being ever the social butterfly, Micah waved and smiled at all of them. I thought about how Micah had no idea that they looked a little different from us, nor that the mother’s face was covered. He just saw people and wanted to be their friend. And as I realized the purity and beauty of that moment, I fell in love with my son all over again.

As we walked through the store, Micah interacted with everyone he saw. Many were different from him, but he didn’t care. He played for several minutes with a little girl of another race at a play kitchen set. He just liked everyone he met.

At an IKEA mere miles from Washington, DC, children met each other and showed no bias. I want to be more like Micah and those other children that day. It was beautiful and amazing, but to them, it was just a normal day.