“I Want to be That Boy”

by

Deep in the place where the first stirrings of manhood begin, every boy wants to be like his Dad.  He wants to be tall, strong, capable and manly.  When a boy’s father emanates a quality of Christlikeness, this imitative desire is easily transferred, as boy becomes man,  from the earthly father to the heavenly Father.   As I reflect on my father-in-law, who passed away at the age of ninety, I see this lifelong desire to be with, and like, his Father.  Carl grew up in upstate New York with his dad, who was a country veterinarian.  He went on to pastor for over sixty years, serving the Lord tirelessly, cheerfully, inconspicuously.  When I think about what fueled him, what kept him going all those years, I think it was his desire to be his Father’s boy, something like this:

When Dad pulled out the sleigh, on crunching snow in the dark new day,

and called for the horse through clouds of breath,

I wanted to be the son.

I wanted to be the boy who could sort out the harness,

and hand him the links, arrange the reins, and respond without words to the man who would save a calf today, and make a farmer’s herd give more milk.

I wanted to be that boy who could walk into the house and stamp my boots,

and know I had done a portion of a man’s work in the pre-dawn cold when will and duty overcame warmth and ease.

I wanted to be the boy whose mother could know he would step up to a chore, or wait for his breakfast, because he was, after all,

a man in the making.

I wanted to be that boy.

I wanted to be that boy who went to college,

and gathered his tools, and got his degree for a life to come.

I wanted to be that boy who banked his hopes, and left his plans,

to ship to a far-off war for honor and country.

I wanted to be that boy who could win the heart of a woman,

and prove my love for seven decades.

I wanted to be that boy who studied, taught,

fed, and labored in obscurity for the sake of God’s people.

I wanted to be that boy who peered past the murky years,

the hand-me-down cars, the unlovely lives, and the faded goals,

for that “well done” from my Father.

I wanted to be that boy who treated all the Father’s children with gentle grace, and with his own tender compassion.

I wanted to be that boy who kept the faith,

finished the race, and never said it’s too hard, too cold, too heavy.

I wanted to be that boy who did a man’s work in the dark,

not because it was glorious, or praiseworthy,

but because of who was with me there,

and whose eye said wordlessly: you are that boy.

You belong to me.

Son, you are just like me.

I want to be that boy.

SOUND OFF: Is there a memory of longing to be like your Dad that was true and noble, and that now spurs you on to live faithfully for the Lord’s eyes and words?

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