Thursday, May 29, 2014

Great Delight

May 29, 2002. I was working full-time for a pharmaceutical company in a town intricately designed around horse farms and silver springs. The months preceding this day had been full of uncertainty, but on this day 12 years ago, a miracle occurred. Some Christ followers will tell you that they don't believe in miracles. They believe that God ceased to perform signs and wonders when the early church took a turn into the next century. They obviously have never met her. Twelve years ago, my wife and I, together with our first-born son, welcomed a beautiful miracle into the world. My world has never been the same.

They say (whoever they is) that little girls have a special place in their daddy's hearts. Their smiles and those sweet kisses have a different effect, some tell us, when they come from a princess. As much as I might like to argue to the contrary, I cannot tell a lie (thanks, Abe). She has my heart.

Of all of our children, Caroline has probably sacrificed the most in our move. If you saw her glide across the room, you would see what an elegant dancer God created her to be. To hear her sing, you would think you were listening to angels. To watch her run, you would call her a gazelle. To experience her at a gymnastics meet, you would think she could fly. Biased? Perhaps. But I can only see her through my eyes. When we moved to Tennessee, she gave up all of that for a season. For various reasons, we did not enroll her in some of the activities she had been a part of in Florida. We asked her to spend the year getting adjusted to school and to finding her place. She has adjusted well, and she is doing okay. Disney has taught us that all princesses go through times of struggle and transition, but one day their prince comes and saves the day.

The prince. Let's talk about him for a second. There is no particular prince I am talking about. As far as I am concerned, Daddy is the only prince any little girl needs. Since my darling won't date until she is at least 80 years old, I think I am safe. As a minister, I've visited in lots of nursing homes, and I have never seen anything bigger than a twin bed, and those are the electrical hospital beds that no one would ever share. The rooms are small. The food is fair. The card games are not fair. (Have you ever watched elderly people try to sneak a card under the table? It's hilarious). The point is that since she won't be dating until she is 80, any guy will be so worn out that I will have nothing to worry about!!!

Just in case I'm wrong, however, let me say that any prince that thinks he is going to steal my baby girl's heart away better be ready. I have lots of questions and am looking for very specific answers. These questions are not multiple choice questions where you eliminate a few answers to get to the right one. No grading on the curve for this exam. My questions are long discussion questions that will require years of research before the prince can prove worthy. The first few questions will be easy ones. What is her favorite color? What time of day was she born? How does she like her pasta? How many teeth did she have to have pulled before she got braces? Once he gets past these obvious questions, I have a few more. Explain the dynamics between molecular biology and the existence of human life. Discuss in detail with proper citation the doctrine of the church and the impact of the doctrine on the future of Christianity in our world. Consider the works of classic theologians and use those works to explain the doctrine of salvation, moving quickly into the process of sanctification that leads ultimately to glorification. Use sources from at least three different languages, excluding English. If he makes it through those questions, then we will move on to the more difficult questions. How many times will you be willing to forgive her when she is wrong (assuming of course that she ever will be wrong, which will be doubtful because we men know that the woman is never wrong)? What are your plans to help my treasure grow in her relationship with Christ? What are you doing in your own life to prepare to present her to Christ as a holy bride? Since no one will obviously be able to complete the assignment in the allotted thirty minutes, I feel fairly secure in saying that my princess will stay with me and her mother for the rest of her sweet little life.

Just in case I'm wrong, however, let me say that the primary prince in her life can never be a man, even her daddy. My ultimate prayer for the miracle I call darling is that she grow to love the Lord with all of her heart, mind, soul, and strength. Jesus is the prince she needs. He loves her even more than I do. His word tells me that even when we fail as humans, he does not. He loves my baby girl so much that "while [she] was yet a sinner, Christ died for her." "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life his friends" (John 15:13). The truth is that I love her more than life and would willingly give my life for hers. Someone has already beat me to it, though. She has a Savior to whom she has committed her life, and he delights in her (Zephaniah 3:17). The truth is that she does not belong to me. She belongs to Him, and He has entrusted me with her for a short time. So instead of my considering what questions I will be asking one day, perhaps I should review the questions He might ask me one day?

1. Did you teach my ways to her diligently? Did you talk of my commands when you sat in your house, when you walked by the way, and when you lay down, and when you rose? Deuteronomy 6:7
2. Did you teach her to have no other gods and honor My name? Exodus 20:4-7.
3. Did you teach her to delight herself in Me so I could give her the desire of her heart? Psalm 37:4
4. Did you teach her that "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised"? Proverbs 31:30.
5. Did you teach her to obey so that she would transfer her obedience over onto me? Ephesians 6:1-3
6. Did you teach her that I created her for My glory so that all of the world can see Christ in her? (Ephesians 1:3-14)
7. Did you teach her that I have called her to make disciples of all nations? (Matthew 28:19)
8. Did you realize that teach didn't mean lecture and preach, but meant train? (Proverbs 22:6)

I have no biblical evidence that the Lord will ask me any questions at all, but since I am convinced that my princess is a blessing God has entrusted me with, I know I should strive to bring her up in the admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), teaching her above all to be pure because "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."(Matthew 5:8)

With all of that said and with my perspective back in place, I suppose I should end by saying that if some strange smelling middle school, high school, college age, or adult boy (as the years progress of course) is smart enough and wise enough to see how much of a treasure my darling princess actually is he had better be ready. I'm investing a lot in her life. Jesus died for. What in the world could any other boy possibly offer?

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