Some Late Night Thoughts About Being a Father
by Travis Bookout
I preach every Sunday. There are so many times that, after I’ve finished, some young mother apologizes to me about her toddler shouting/crying during the sermon. I always try to comfort her by saying that it didn’t bother me at all. And that really is the truth, because well, I just never hear it. Maybe I’m going deaf at a young age. Or, more likely, while those mothers are struggling to make sure their kids don’t ruin the service, I’m up in front struggling to make sure that I don’t ruin the service. I suppose I’m just focused on other things and a baby’s cry never even registers in my mind.
Except for one. There is one child that it seems no matter what I’m doing, I immediately recognize his voice. Tonight, while I was preaching, I heard this little voice in the back of the auditorium shouting, “Da! Da! Da!” I immediately recognized it. I hear it all day long. It was the voice of my 1 year old son, Oliver (the little guy pictured above). I had to struggle not to break into a smile and forget my train of thought. I had to struggle not to say, “What’s up, buddy?” (my normal response when he calls for me).
In the middle of a sermon my mind is usually pretty focused. But that one little voice can steal my attention in a moment. I like hearing it. I love when my son calls for me. When I get home from the office, he crawls to the door shouting, “Da! Da!” When he wakes up in the morning, I walk into his room to get him and he shouts, “Da!” Now that he’s started walking a few days ago, he’ll walk to me, fall in my arms, calling “Da!” It makes me feel special. Loved.
From what people are always quick to tell me, this doesn’t last long. Kids grow up quickly. They find other hobbies and other interests. They make friends, move out, go to college, get married, all in the blink of an eye. But my nightly prayer with Oliver always contains the line, “Please help Oliver to always know that we love him very much and for us to always have a close relationship.”
I pray every night for our relationship to be strong and loving and last a lifetime. I never want him to drift away or get bored of me. (By the way, right now, I hear him giggling in the other room with his mama while he’s supposed to be going to sleep, it’s cracking me up). Simply, I love that kid. I will always make time for him and I hope he grows up making time for me.
That said, as children of God, we have a Father also. There’s a heart breaking passage in Hosea 11 about God’s child, Israel, drifting from Him as he grew older. “When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son…They kept sacrificing to the Baals And burning incense to idols. Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; But they did not know that I healed them” (Hosea 11:1-3).
I never want to put God through that. I don’t even want to imagine the child I love so much, that I taught to walk, that I took in my arms, growing to neglect me and trade me away for other things.
God longs to hear from us. He longs to hear our voices. He recognizes the cries of His children. He wants us to make time for Him. What a tragedy it would be for us to grow and drift away from Him. To focus more on our hobbies, careers, and retirements, than we do our Father.
Today, make time for God. Call out to Him as your Father. Tell Him how much you appreciate Him. Spend sincere time in prayer. Communicate openly with Him. Build your relationship. I want mine and Oliver’s relationship to grow stronger with the passing of time, not drift farther apart. God desires the same thing with us. Make time for your Father.