After five days in the hospital filled with overwhelming joy, paralyzing fear and complete exhaustion in the wake of the birth of our twins, I finally found a moment to walk outside the florescent lights and sit under the bright moon. Sitting on a small patch of grass outside the hospital doors, the reality of being a father to four kids finally hit me.
I was both overwhelmed and overjoyed by the gift and responsibility of raising four kids in a world so desperately in need of mustard seeds of hope that one day blossom into healing and beauty.
As I sit in relative comfort and begin to dream big dreams for my kids, I was struck by the reality that most father’s around the globe are forced to welcome their kids into a world where there is no “ladder” to climb because it has been knocked out from under them by broken systems that are breaking people.
A world where many kids are born into families fleeing violent persecution and being nursed on the trauma of war in battered refugee camps; places where the thought of hope is a distant second to simply fighting to survive.
A world where one’s value is more closely associated with gender (male) than with the beautiful uniqueness inherent in every new life.
But it is also a world pregnant with possibilities. A world where former enemies move beyond their past, share tables and begin to imagine a future together.
A world where the blossoms of new life begin to sprout in the shadowy corners of forgotten neighborhoods.
A world where the diversity of God’s kingdom begins to awaken our eyes and hearts to the new world God is making.
It is in this world – a world that is both beautiful and broken — that I offer this prayer over my four kids.
May you see the humanity, dignity and image of God in everyone. Regardless of documentation, orientation or association, may you choose to see the face of Jesus in all those put in your path. May you see those who are different than you not through the lens of judgment, but with a spirit of curiosity and posture of invitation.
May you immerse into the the muck and messiness of everyday life seeking to understand rather than be understood. May you move toward broken people and places catalyzed by hope rather than paralyzed by fear. And, finally, as you move deeper into relationship with these people and places, may you stick around for the long haul offering radical presence in a world of hurry.
My dear ones, may your relative comfort and inherited privilege not lead to complacency, but instead be used to contend for the flourishing of others. May you be willing to sacrifice your reputation, finances and time in order to stand in front of any bulldozer that is flattening people. Like the Jesus we follow, may you return evil with good and choose not to get even, but get creative in love.
May you lead out of your identity as ones first and foremost loved by God, so you can give yourselves fully to God and others. If you get anything, please get this: your identity is not based on what you do, but who you are. All is grace dear ones and you are God’s beloved. As such, your mother and me will always love you, contend for you, pray for you and stand with you no matter what choices you make or what you “do” or don’t do.
Whether you join God’s mission of reconciliation in the halls of power or the back ally’s of forgotten neighborhoods, may you see and participate in the restoration made real in Jesus death and resurrection. May you taste, feel, see and experience a Kingdom where the last will be first and the first will be last. For it is there that love lives.
And, day in and day out, may we be parents who live and model the kind of lives we are inviting you to live.
Much love to each of you; Ruby, Rosie, Hank & Lou.