There are many truths that I have learned from my 36 years of being a son and my12 years of being a father. This truth is one of the most undeniable ones: If I loved my Heavenly Father like my son loves his earthly one, I would be the most radically and deeply devoted saint that the world has ever known.
My son Kirkland (we call him Kirky) is a sandy-headed, 4-year-old force of nature. He has an intense fear of thunderstorms, beautiful olive-toned skin, deep blue eyes and a deceptively disarming smile. He has a look of innocence about him that completely fools those who don’t know him well into forgetting his mischievous nature. He weighs all of 33 pounds (soaking wet) and eats very little to maintain that weight. He loves to play catch, "tickle" (especially while rolling around on our living room floor) and owns more matchbox cars than any child ever should. He loves water, whether in a bath, shower, pool or just spraying everything in sight with the garden hose. He knows most of the alphabet and how to count to 10 and can mimic anything or anyone, but he refuses to show off any of this knowledge to anyone outside the immediate family. I suspect that he is embarrassed for me when I try to show him off.
But the devout part—aside from his obvious charm—is the part of him that warrants this piece.
When a storm comes, Kirky unashamedly jumps into my arms and buries his head in my chest. It never crosses his mind to run away in a storm—he runs to me. I don’t know if this is about real safety or if it’s about mere comfort. I do know that I would do much better to run to my Heavenly Father and seek shelter in His arms in those times of storm, but instead I tend to feign courage or break for another and always inferior shelter.
Of all the things I’ve had to teach Kirky, coming to me was never one. As a matter of fact, the very phrase he uses if he wants me to hold him is “Come see me.”
I have had to teach him (or at least, I am currently trying to teach him) not to jump on his bed, not to climb on his furniture, not to walk right under me as I’m carrying the laundry through the house, but I’ve never had to teach him the reverse. If I am around, then he is always there beside me. It has become a standing joke in my home that I can’t eat dinner, because Kirky is diligently striving to steal me away for a quick game of “tickle.”
Kirky is constantly wearing my shoes, playing with my clothes or eating food off my plate. My son not only loves me, he loves my stuff like I should love God’s "stuff"—His Word, His church, His Son, His Children.
Even when he is sick, Kirky manages to teach me things. He takes his medicine with a minimum of fuss or protest even when it is really “yucky.” I’ve never been good at taking my medicine. I have never done well with reproach of any kind. It is quite obvious to anyone that Kirky doesn’t like to take his, but he doesn’t resist—he’s only slightly uncooperative. When I try to sneak it to him in his juice cup, he spits it out, or just won’t drink the juice that he normally cannot live without. If I give it to him from my hand, he swallows it. I try to avoid taking my medicine from God—even to the point of avoiding God—neglecting my prayer life (essentially making myself more sick). Kirky comes up quietly when I call and, even though he sometimes protests, he sits and opens his mouth for it.
Of course, there are some times when he runs from me. It’s when I sing too loudly, or vacuum the floor, but who can blame him—I’d run from those terrible sounds too if I could. The problem is that Kirky’s father does not have the beautiful voice that my Father has. Kirky’s father sings off key and too loudly the way my Father never would. Kirky’s father needs the help of loud machines that disturb the peace in his home whenever he needs to clean. My Father can cleanse the blackest of hearts with His still small voice.
I have long since given up the ambition to be as good at everything as my Father is, but I know for sure that my Father will never give up on His son, even though my attempts at reflecting His image to my son are so poor.