August 19, 2015
In January, when I first knew that you were coming, I knew I was going to be writing this at some point. But to be honest, I didn’t know what to say for a long time. The reality just hadn’t fully sunk in for me I suppose. Then when your cousin, Madelyn, was born I started to really get hit with the reality of it all. Your mom and aunt will probably say that I was just feeling uncomfortable or strange because I had never really grown up with babies around, but the truth is, I was scared. Not because I didn’t want to have you, and I wanted to continue in my vanity, like the rest of the world would be scared, but for very different reasons.
I still haven’t fully grasped the best way to explain it, and I never have been the best at expressing emotion, but I’ll do my best. When I saw your cousin, as precious as I felt like, and still feel like, she is, I couldn’t imagine how much more precious my own would be. I couldn’t see how I could do anything but give everything I had to something that innocent and reliant upon you. I certainly couldn’t understand how God could’ve given his own Son for us. But most of all, I couldn’t believe how much, in spite of all of that, I was going to absolutely fail every step of the way. One day you’ll grow up and be out of my hands, and I’ll probably truly understand just how much more I could have and should have done, but I only hope that when that time comes, God will have been gracious enough to stop me from doing more damage than my selfishness desires.
It’s a terrifying thought once you realize how sinful you really are, son. I realized it in its most potent form when I was saved, but as I grow older, I realize more and more just how wretched I really am. Because of that, you have to understand that I am not to be looked up to. Because of that, your mother and I should never the source of anything that defines you, but only Jesus Christ.
With that said though, I can still instruct you and guide you in a meaningful way, like God has instructed fathers to do. Although I am a sinner, God is a merciful savior, and has graciously given us the revelation of his truth for me to point you to. I can only hope you will be more consistent than I have in my life with these few treasures of wisdom and advice that I can give you right now, so here are the few things I could hope for you to learn:
- You are a sinner too, a big one:
The most important thing I think you could learn, is also the hardest reality to fully confront. Son, you are not perfect. No one is. Physically, morally, spiritually, and everything else, we are all borrowing from God’s reserves of what He gives us in these regards, and left alone we would be absolutely bankrupt of anything to give back, and furthermore, we would drive ourselves even further into that depravity if not for God’s sustaining and withholding of what we actually want to do in our hearts. You are no different. The world is going to try to tell you that you are “perfect” the way you are, which in one sense is true, we are all created for a perfect sovereign purpose of God, but it is the biggest lie that you will ever hear when you are told that you, in and of yourself, are a perfect person.
The sooner you realize that you too are just as in need of a savior, and are as utterly imperfect from your sin as anyone else, the sooner your life will begin. One of my favorite pastors once said:
“You cannot see the beauty of the stars in the midday sky because the light of the sun eclipses them. However, after the sun sets and the sky becomes black as pitch, you see the stars in the full force of their splendor. So it is with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can only see its true beauty against the backdrop of our sin. The darker man appears, the brighter the gospel shines.”
In order to fully understand who God is, and what He has done, you need to fully see who you are. You are a sinner. A big one. This is the hardest thing for me to have to tell you, because I cannot honestly picture you being anything but perfect. I cannot perceive wanting to do anything but forgive and let you be happy. But my greatest responsibility as your father is not to make you happy, it’s to help you see the only true source of life and happiness that is found in Jesus Christ, and because of that, you must always remember that you need Him. You need Him so much more desperately than you need me, your mom, or anyone else in the world. Only He will satisfy you, and only He can pay for the sin that you are enslaved to.
Key verses to remember: (Proverbs 28:26; Proverbs 14:12; Isaiah 53:6; Jeremiah 17:9; John 14:6; Romans 3:9 -18; Romans 5:12,19; Just read the book of Romans; 1John 1:8-10)
This is one of those lessons you can’t learn unless you’ve lived through it, which makes it difficult to teach. But the more aware you are of what’s wrong, the more you can do to fix it before it gets worse. Always be looking to move forward, Jameson, and never be content with where you are now. The easiest way to fall into sin, or advance an already existing sin is to do nothing, and I guarantee there will be plenty of sins that you will be aware and unaware of, so I can only tell you that you should never be above the criticism of others, believer or not, and should constantly be on watch for the sin that is constantly at war within you.
Key Verses: (1 Peter 2:24; Romans 8; 2 Timothy 2:22-26; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12; 1 John 1:5-10; 1 John 2:1-2)
- Do not be conformed, but informed:
By hanging out with me at all, you will probably already take this on to some degree, but one of the biggest blessings in my life, has been the desire to grow in knowledge. Although a slight play on the equally relevant verse in Romans 12:2, my point here is very simple. Take no knowledge for granted. Do not be afraid to question things that don’t make sense, and do not be okay not knowing the answers when they are in front of you. Although we can’t learn everything in this life, nor perhaps in eternity, we can do everything in our power not to be conformed to the worldly idea of relative truth. The world will try to tell you over and over again how to do things, how to think (or rather, what to think), and will do everything it can to make you undyingly obedient to its idea that you can’t know anything except for what they say. Even in your (hopefully) Christian beliefs, I never want you to take for granted that your mom and dad, or your pastor, or anyone else you look up to is right. As humans we are irreversibly fallible, and it falls upon you to filter out the noise and ask yourself what God has revealed, what the truth is, and to always seek consistency with that truth.
Key Verses: (Proverbs 1:5; 1:7; 2:10-11; 16:22; Ecclesiastes 7:12; John 14:6; James 1:5; Romans 12:2)
This is perhaps my worst area of life, either Christian life, or not. I have always been a shy person, and with any luck, you will hopefully not be, but based on how your mother and I are, the odds aren’t in your favor, I’m sad to say. However, that is no excuse to not be a brave steward of your faith. We live in a world where the worst thing you can do is offend someone, even if they are 100% wrong. It’s sad, but it’s true, and more often than not the Word of God in particular will bring out that offense more than anything else. But you don’t have to be a slave to that idea like I have been for so long. I grew up in the world, embracing its thinking for most of my life, but you don’t need to embrace it like I did. Be bold and confident like Jesus called you to be. Be brave and share your faith with everyone, not being afraid to offend for the sake of what is true and glorifying to God.
Key Verses: (Proverbs 28:1; 2 Corinthians 3:12-18; Ephesians 3:12; Ephesians 6:10-20; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 13:6; Matthew 16:24)
- Put others before yourself:
If you accomplish this one, you’ll have made me more proud than you could ever possibly imagine. The greatest thing that you can do with your life, is to lay it down for others. This is the foundation (apart from the grace of God and the work of Christ) of how every aspect of the Christian life works. Just as Jesus gave completely of himself to save his people, as Christians, we are called to do the same, but with the purpose of pointing it all back to Him. It is my prayer and hope that you would be completely sacrificial and authentic in your love, first and foremost, for God, and secondly for others, as you walk through life. The source of every lesson I could ever teach you, including the others I have tried to show you in this letter, is rooted in your love for God, and your love for others. There would truly be nothing that would make me happier than to have a son, who understood and followed the path of sacrificial love that Jesus was trying to get us to follow him on. Nothing would bring me greater joy than to see you become a man who is a complete embodiment of the grace of God, through your actions and stewardship over what He has given you in your demonstration of regenerated grace, love, and peace.
Key Verses: (Matthew 20:28; Matthew 23:11; Matthew 25:35-40; Acts 20:35; Romans 12:1; Galatians 5:13-14; Philippians 2:1-18; 1Corinthians 9:19; James 2:14-17; 1Peter 4:10-11; 1John 3:18)
I’m not sure how I’ll react the day you’re born, but I know I’ll never be the same afterward. I know that I won’t be prepared for it, and I know that your mom won’t either, even if she has spent every moment of your life with you so far. There’s a temptation to be scared about what will happen once you’re here, I’ll admit. The world has bought into the lie that children are a sort of inconvenience that takes away from the supposed “joy” that we could be having if you weren’t around, and unfortunately those voices screaming these ideas, do breakthrough in times of doubt. But I know that’s not what you are. Do not ever think that you are an inconvenience to me or your mom. You are the greatest blessing we will receive outside of salvation, and it pains my heart that anyone could possibly think different. You will help to make your mother and I so much greater than we ever thought we could be, and God will use you in amazing ways to break us down from our own sin, and, God-willing help us to bravely lead you to Him as well. As a family, we will grow and learn, and come closer to, and farther from at times, each other and God throughout these years we have.
I don’t think I fully know it now, but I love you more than I’ve ever loved anything. More than my family, more than my things, and idols, and probably even more than I love your mom. I haven’t actually met you yet, but I would already give everything for you, and I don’t even question that. But as I said before, Jameson, I will fail you. I’m a sinner, and I need these lessons to be played back at every moment of my life in order to have even the most remote chance of raising you as I should.
So you can think of this letter as an apology of sorts. The same way that I told your mom in our vows that I cannot make any meaningful promise without her understanding who I am, I need you to understand who I am, and that I will fail you. I am so sorry that it is the case, but it is true. Just know, that I love you. Despite myself, I love you, and as your father, I would never want to hurt you or mislead you. Because of this, I will make you a promise, if you will make me a promise. I promise that I will do everything I can to become better for you. I promise to seek to do the things that I have asked you to do. But only if you promise to forgive me when I can’t, all the while, knowing that God is far more worthy of your adoration and approval than I am, and where I fail, He has succeeded.
I love you,