I want to start out by encouraging you to visit my wife's blog to see pictures from Maddox's first birthday party. She is the picture-taker, premier family blogger, and blog designer in my family. If pictures are what you're looking for, her website it the place to find it. www.hnpacker.blogspot.com
Being the preacher, I provide the prose and words to describe our lives through the lens of word pictures (Which is another way of saying I'm a lazy blogger who can type but lacks the skill to make this an incredible website, but I digress.)
I know every parent is proud of their child. I know every parent thinks he/or she is the best child that has ever lived. I get that. But it's important to sketch out these thoughts through a theological lens or we remain unaffected by the divine in special moments like this.
Today, is Maddox's first birthday. Just that fact brings back a flood of memories. The montage going on in my head goes something like this: Chili's on June 28th with our families, hospital for induction, waiting on Maddox, painful labor (What! It was tough for me too!), beautiful boy, tears, dreams, love, leaving the hospital scared to death, learning to be a father (physically), learning to be a father (in every other way), sleepless nights, swings, prayers, smiles, sitting up, crawling, standing, coos, giggles, cries, "dadda."
All of these words represent pictures in my mind. They're not just black letters on a screen. As I type them, emotion follows these words and pictures. Tears stream to my eyes as I think about this first year of fatherhood.
Let me just say, I'm crazy about Maddox. I love him so much and would do ANYTHING for him.
We want him to live a happy childhood, but more than that, we cannot wait until he confesses Jesus as his Lord in baptism. We cannot wait until he chooses servanthood over selfishness. We cannot wait until he dreams up kingdom dreams that scare us to death. We cannot wait until the world receives the gift that God has given to us in ways that will change the world forever. One year later, we still smile, love on him, and dream of what he will be. There will be a time when our dreams will shatter or become reality, but for now we dream and pray.
Our life has been changed forever by Maddox. My life has been changed forever by Maddox. My actions now impact him in more ways that I want to think. But that provides an incredible opportunity as well. Just as I've told my congregation, so I want Maddox to know the same thing. I want him to follow me as I follow Christ. And as humbling as that statement is, it's also the truth that I want to live out.
Our children don't just pick up God and follow him. They hear about God. They experience God. They see God in us. And eventually, they make their own choices. My prayer this morning is that through all five senses, Maddox would experience God through me. May he see Jesus in me. May he feel Jesus in me. May he hear Jesus in me. May he taste Jesus in me. May he smell Jesus in me.
Because ultimately, spirituality is not a disembodied experience. It's so natural. It finds itself in all of our senses. Our faith is an embodied faith. It's an earthy faith. And if Maddox is to ever pick up a kingdom lifestyle, it will be because of people in his life who choose to embody faith in real ways.
Maddox, your mother and I love you. We would do anything for you. We'll keep giving you bottles and keep you well fed. You might receive a toy or two in the future as well. But our most important gift we can give to you is to aid your five senses. God has given you those senses for a reason. Taste and see that the Lord is good!