One thing you will find out about your Daddy, son, if you haven’t already grasped it with your 8-year-old brain, is that he never takes the shortest route between two points. (This has caused your momma endless stress and if she has any lines or grey hairs, they can be traced back to me doing things my way in my time – which is usually the opposite of hers.)
When you were born, I said to myself that I was going to write a letter to you on your first birthday, seal it in an envelope, put it in a safe deposit box, and give it to you on your 18th birthday. Well, that never happened. So here it is, eight years later, and I’m just now getting around to writing you. I didn’t write you then because I thought it was unimportant, no, quite the opposite. I took the long way, because it’s taken me this long to say precisely to you what I wanted to say. I am normally careless with my words, but you deserve much more than my carelessness.
You’ve lived with me now for eight years. Before you were born, I promised God I would cherish you like nothing else. Like all of my promises to God, I have sputtered and stuttered. But, I love you more now than I did then. I didn’t think it was possible. You can ask your Mom, I literally had to keep pulling over off the road when were driving you home from the hospital, because I was crying more than you were. I didn’t know ANYTHING about being a father, and I sometimes wonder if I know anything about it now. And, the fact that I loved your little pasty-skinned, crying self SO MUCH really scared me!
Your Daddy is well-known for taking the longest distance between two points.
When I look at you these days, it makes me smile. I smile at how smart you are. I smile at how handsome you are. I smile at how compassionate you are. I smile at how you are an encourager. I smile at how you try to comprehend things as a grown-up would, and can’t. I even smile at you when you’re mad at me for having to be a disciplinarian to you. Why? Because I see the wonderful work of God in you as you grow and learn and mature and expand yourself. All I can do is smile.
You make me so proud, son.
I think about all the things that accompany having an 8-year-old son: the broken arm, the tubes in your ears, the RSV, the colds, the bee stings, the shots and medicines, the stomach bugs, the scrapes, and the bruises. (Man, you’ve had a lot of those for a guy who hasn’t been around long!)
I think about the first word, the first step, the first day of school, the good grades, the sports, your interest in art, history, Thomas the Tank Engine, the outdoors, our family vacations, Star Wars, the Bible, the birth of Isabela, and your asking “simple” questions whole volumes have been written to answer.
Man, you are something else, I tell you. Something else.
In eight short years you have given me several lives worth of great memories, son.
I know sometimes you might think I’m too busy or out of touch when you need and want me. And there’s probably some truth to it. Daddies are that way sometimes. Especially those of us who like to live in our own little world at times. But, you know what? I feel like I’m a kid right there with you on the weekends when we have our “camp outs” in the living room, watching t.v. and eating snacks and sleeping on the floor or couch. I hope I can milk those times for at least a few more years. They tell me it won’t be long before you lock yourself in your room and won’t come out until you’re 18.
I want to share a few random things I have learned over the years. (The ratio of what I’ve learned to my age seems awfully unbalanced when I think about it.)
1. God is real and God is not complacent. He is seeking you. Be found.
2. Be honorable and keep your word. “yes” and “no” are always black and white.
3. Serve others. Your Mom and I have lived most of our lives in the service of others. We’ve never been rich. We’ve never been famous. But, we believe in serving others. That’s what Jesus did. That’s why we do it.
4. Don’t get caught up in the things you know you shouldn’t get caught up in. If it means sacrificing popularity, relationships, advancement, do not do what you know not to do. Someone once said a man’s pillow is his peace of mind. I’ve slept on one too many rocks to let you know it isn’t worth it. There is right and wrong in the world. Do right. Avoid wrong. It’s pretty simple.
5. Let God’s Word guide you. Not in a religious way or academic way, but in a spiritual and practical way. I always thought the Bible was written for old people with no joy. However, I found out (sometimes too late it seems) that God wrote it to me for me about his Son. Remember, you are under a New Covenant purchased in blood, and you approach the Bible like that.
6. Never be religious. Always be holy. Always be sanctified. Always be about the business. Never be religious.
7. ALWAYS be about finding joy in God. I’ve learned that happiness is fleeting and an impostor to true joy only found in God alone.
8. You will always stumble and you will always fall. Things will never go the way you always want them to go. Grace makes an amazing pad to land on. Keep it close at all times.
9. Be compassionate, but don’t be a fool. Mud always looks and smells like molasses.
10. Things should always be ordered like this: God. Family. Everything else. I’m still working on that order after all these years. You, however, trust me on this one, if you don’t hear anything else I ever say to you.
Well, there are ten things to mull over for the rest of your life. I hope in another 8 years, you and I will sit down and talk about them, and in another 8 years we’ll review them again. If I’m Home by that time, somehow I think you will have gotten the picture by then.
I love you, Jakob. I will always love you and I will always cherish you.