The family is tucked in. Had to peek in every room as I came downstairs. All asleep, including the dog Sandi, who generally is asleep most of the time anyway. No snoring tonight in the house. A quiet resting. I am at peace.
My two guys are doing eating/gaming 24/7 over the holidays, and then sleeping off the eating and gaming. Sharon’s and my job is to keep the refrigerator full, the oven warm, the wood stove stoked and not to walk in front of the TV when football is on. The guys job is to enjoy being home.
They might be my boys but I am under no illusion that they are living in a boys world. They are men on leave, on a break from assignment and mission. Soon enough they will return to the rough and tumble world of making impact, conquering and winning, recovering from defeats, refocusing and getting back into the game. There is still so much ahead of them. They will be stretched, tried and often trapped with no clear next step. Their values will be pummeled, their priorities strained, and their capacity to endure tested to tears. If Christ was made perfect only through suffering, holy though he was, then nothing less will be on the agenda for my guys.
On Christmas morning I pray for them. Hang in there, men. Believe deeply, hold fast to Jesus, stand by your values, obey the naked and unsupported word of God, drink deep at the oases God provides along the way – and then rise to do it all again. For the rest of your lives. I won’t be with you for the whole journey. I wish I could. But while I am here you have all of me. There is nothing I would not do for you. I mean it. And when God takes me home, you will have the prayers of a man who sees the face of God. Wherever I am and in whatever state, I will always be your dad.
In the meantime this Christmas rest and laugh and eat and sleep. I might not be able to tune out the drumbeat of the war to which you will return soon. Sometimes I think I hear those sounds louder than you do. But for now, just for a moment, we’ll pretend – that you will never have to leave and that it will always be okay.