The first occurrence struck the weekend before Thanksgiving. We spent the night at my mom's house in West Point after a full Mississippi State Maroon Memories Weekend. David grew weary and needed a bath so Karen and I agreed that the time for said bath had arrived. David protested slightly, but eventually ended up as an active participant in bath time. This experience will not soon be forgotten for, you see, during this particular visit to Mississippi, David forgot his soap. Now for most ordinary children, forgetting your soap ranks low on the crisis list. For David, however, soap holds a high position. David hates a bath, but he likes to smell good. He showers himself with body spray so as to smell like "a man." Recently, he discovered deodorant and loves to exclaim how his pits smell like daisies. I'm not so sure I would describe them as daisies, but he has planted there so daisies it will be. Back to the soap..... David forgot his soap so of course he could not take a bath. Shiver me timbers, my mother had soap!!!! Who would have thought that a grandmother would actually have soap in the bathtub?!?
After convincing David that Granny had soap, he finally trudged his way to the tub. He climbed into the tub. He settled into the warm bath water and swirled his arms around in the complexity of enjoyment that a young nine year old experiences when he realizes that his biggest dread holds a feeling of exhilaration. Then, it happened. David looked around and proclaimed, "Granny doesn't have any soap." Needless to say, a large, brand new bar of soap rested strategically on his right hand side. The resting place was the place I remembered. The white ceramic holder that had help the soap for forty seven years continued to fill its role as the sole provider of cleanliness to those who would enter into the world of bathdom. After explaining that the curved bar on his right heralded as soap, David reached up and took the bar in his hand. He examined the bar carefully as Luke Skywalker examined his light saber for the very first time. Here we were, me the Yoda and David the young Jedi learning how to use the strange object in his hand for the ultimate good of all mankind who would face him in the hours to come. Bar soap. An amazing adventure into a world never known and yet to be discovered. The awe and the mystery of such a small object that would be used to change the experience of so many snugglers soon to come. Methodically and cautiously he brought the bar to the rag. He began to rub the two together as suds began to form. The suds became larger suds, and soon David was placing the rag underneath the sacred pits and into other unmentionable crevices. The water muddied, and the mind began to comprehend what was happening. The dirt of today became the waste of the water soon to be washed down the drain of disposal. A new day dawned as bar soap became a reality. Brilliant. Extraordinary. Penetrating. Like a light saber in the hands of a Jedi bar soap became the weapon to erase the painful stench of the day and ushered in a new hope of cleanliness, unexpected, yet welcomed by all.
The second occurrence came shortly after the first. Recently moving back to Florida brought many memories. Elementary school, new friends, Big Sun Soccer, dance teams, and Awana all rushed back to the consciousness of our family. Then, of course, rising from the ashes of our memory was the most magical place on earth. Disney World. Needless to say, our family loves the Disney experience. Disney serves as the one outing we all enjoy together - except for one problem. Recently someone in our family mentioned Belle. Immediately you must have begun singing "Tale as old as time ......." Belle, the beauty for the beast. The classic portrait of the grace of God in our lives and the magical reality of one who sees beyond the physical into the depth of one's being. In this moment, when one of our tribe mentioned "Belle," David asked, "Who is Belle?"
All of the agony of broken dreams and hurtful ministry came to the surface as we realized that in our journey David had lost the innocence of knowing the magical characters of Disney. As a baby, we took the youngster with friends to Disney World. He went to the Magic Kingdom and experienced the characters in all of their fullness, but somehow he had forgotten. Caroline was the first to notice and to proclaim that something must be done. With the passion of Mulan conquering a new world, she began to map out our quest to reintroduce David to the world of Disney. Over the last two weeks, the Permenter family immersed into the Disney experience, and a crisis fell dormant as your youngest held on tightly to the mystical experience of entering the gates of Walt Disney World.
Whew. Bar soap and Disney. Imagine what we almost lost!! Considering the ramifications of recent events prompted me to invest time in more eternal questions. What else might we have lost in our struggle to stay above water over the last few years? Deuteronomy is filled with instructions for parents to teach our children diligently the ways of God. We are literally called to lead our children to love the Lord. The environments we create for them either place them in the center of the love of Christ or the love of the world. What are we doing to create an atmosphere for David to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength? Daniel and Caroline are much older now. When we lived in Ocala before we made sure they connected with others who were also being trained to love Jesus. David lost that experience when we moved to Tennessee, but now we have the opportunity to recapture the movement of the Spirit of God in his life. Daniel and Caroline certainly bear responsibility to model Christlikeness for him, but ultimately the responsibility rests clearly on our shoulders as parents. The church we settle into, the friends we engage with, the ministries we choose will all impact his life for eternity. More than bar soap and knowing Belle, we have a responsibility to raise David in the ways of God in the only path that God has ordained. David has chosen to follow Christ, and we must guide him to choose to submit himself entirely to Christ's will. May we be found faithful.
Recently the world has been reminded of the legacy that a person leaves behind. Carrie Fisher's death highlights that she impacted generations as a princess in generational movies. Even more than Princess Leia we have the responsibility to impact generations for the Kingdom with a force that is greater than Lucasfilm could ever dream up. We are called to pass on a love of Jesus Christ to those He gave us for that very purpose. Some things never change no matter how society advances. The Lord is the same, yesterday, today and forever. The old should not be thrown out, but instead the old should be treasured as the greatest story ever told. Jesus lived, He died, and He lives again!!! He lives in us, and He longs to live in all of humanity!!! Tale as old as time .... the gospel story. Let eternity live on. May we raise up generations that embrace the future while holding to the past. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."