Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Please Don't Be Like Me

Dear Malcolm,

“Please don’t be like me,” I said descending the steps of Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel at Beeson Divinity School.  I had just parted with one of the worst papers I have yet to scribe due to either my consternation or my procrastination—likely a mixture of both—and this dictum was fresh on my cranial lobe.  It seems as though I put myself into this position time and time again and these photo finishes are not the ones you will want to see in your own highlight reel.  My lowlights are littered with a collage of such images and it is not becoming.  It is frustrating for your mother beyond degree and for me in order to get one.  It robs you of real rest, gives you undue stress, and leaves others as those staring at black screens on a holiday weekend only to see “delayed.” 

“Please don’t be like me,” part wish, part command.  Part of me that needs to be wrested from my confines and part of you, for your own sake, you never have to see.  Maybe we can work together on this; I’m sure your mother will appreciate it.

Love,
Dad

Saturday, December 11, 2010

You Are A...

Dear Malcolm,

Well, it has been awhile since your dad has written you a letter, but that does not mean that I have not been thinking of you.  I am almost finished with my penultimate semester of seminary and things are looking good (presuming I can write a mildly decent Hebrew exegesis paper).  All said, this has been a busy semester and seems to have flown by faster than the rest.  Maybe that is because we are in eager anticipation of your arrival April 24th-ish.

We found out yesterday that you are indeed a Malcolm and not a Malcolmette.  Translation: You’re a Boy!!  If by the time you are able to read this you are finally figuring out that you are a boy then it has just been affirmed that I am a terrible father and obviously know even less about parenting than I thought.  You currently weigh about 14oz. and, according to the doctor, you are growing just fine.  Your organs are developing normally and we were able to see both of your hands and both of your feet yesterday.  Oh yeah, and we saw your face and I must admit that the biasness of thinking my son is the best looking boy on the planet has already begun.

So here is our reaction to the first time we saw your face.  We’ll see you again in April.

Love,
Dad


video

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Heart Beat When I Saw Yours

Dear Malcolm,

Your mom and I went to the doctors office this past Friday.  This is the doctor that your mom visits yearly and one your dad will never, ever.

That said, he seems to be a good guy and has yours and your mom's best interests at heart.  Speaking of hearts, I saw yours beat and I felt mine.  You are currently only about the size of an olive but your heartbeat is strong.  It looks like a flickering of light through the ultrasound which is strange because I can only imagine that it is fairly dark in there.  

Your mom has still not been feeling well these last few weeks and we are told that will likely continue for another month or so.  We are told that this is a good sign and that it means that you are growing and sucking life out of your mother.  Like I said, we are told this is good and I can only choose to believe the experts.  I'm feeling pretty good so far, thanks.  In any case, you are on your way and I suppose we will see you sometime in April (and hopefully not before).

We'll leave the light on for you.

Love,
Dad

  

Follow Jesus

Dear Malcolm,

Follow Jesus.  No matter what anyone else tells you; follow Jesus.  I am telling you this now because there are too many times that I don’t follow him.  You are going to be greatly influenced by the way that I live before you.  You will see more than most whether or not I actually practice what I preach.  You will be given the opportunity to see if my words line up with my deeds and my deeds with my words.  And unfortunately, you will be privy to the knowledge that all too often your dad fails to remain obedient.  But even in these times, follow Jesus. 

Jesus is the only one who will never disappoint you, provided that your expectations are based in his word.  Jesus will never fail to love completely and unconditionally and his offer of forgiveness will always be present to those who will believe.  I know my heart too well to promise that I will do the same.  Follow Jesus. 

And although I am to be the one who guides you through this life in a pursuit of God’s glory, I know my heart is “prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.”  I will disappoint you.  I will fail you.  I will act and speak in ways that will surprise you.  And as much as I want you to think that I am the king of the world who can do no wrong you need to know that I am the king of no domain and do most things wrong.  Follow Jesus. 

I want to be the dad who says like Paul said to the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).  But when I am not imitating him (or even Paul for that matter), trust in the Lord with all of your heart, do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight (Prov 3:5-6).  In the meanwhile I pray for both of us that God would honor my request as I say “here’s my heart, Lord; take and seal it.  Seal it for Thy courts above.”  Follow me only if I follow Jesus.

Love, 
Dad          

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Be Busy Learning to Pray

Dear Child (please don't be upset if I call you Malcolm),

I'm on a CS Lewis kick right now.  Partly because my interest in him was piqued this summer through a seminary course which led me to read two of his autobiographical works Surprised by Joy and A Grief Observed.  This semester I have followed up with a course dealing exclusively in the writings and life of CS Lewis and is taught by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Lyle W. Dorsett.  He is one of the godliest men I know and he prayed for your dad before he even became a student at Beeson.  I am very thankful for his influence in my life.

In turn, I came across a quote from Lewis that you need to know.  Write this down as soon as you are able:
"Be busy learning to pray."
This directive, given by Lewis to a young convert to Christianity by the name of Sheldon Vanauken, was his instruction for what the new Christian should do next.  He did not command Bible study, baptism, or church membership (although these things are all to be commended).  But his first imperative was to "be busy learning to pray."  We need to learn to pray in the sense of the "how to" when it comes to prayer.  This does not mean that you must always follow a formulaic approach to the Father (he has granted us privileged access through Jesus Christ), but it does acknowledge that vain repetitions of words should not be considered to be effective.  Jesus warns us about this type of prayer in Matthew 6:7.

However, we also need to learn to pray because this is not something that will always come naturally to us.  Your dad desires to be a man who is committed to prayer and to knowing God and communicating with him. I want to be a man who prays regularly for you, your mom, and those whom the Lord has entrusted into my care.  But this isn't something I will do naturally until I learn to pray.  Not just learn how to pray, but simply learn to pray.  This is CS Lewis' intent in his instructions.  You will never be too young or too old to learn to pray.  I hope you will start now even as you are in utero and that I have not become too old to learn either.

I am praying for you to this end and look forward to the day and night that we can pray together.

Love,
Dad 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Who's Malcolm?

To be honest, I don't know who you are.  At least not yet. 

Your mom and I discovered that we will be parents for the first time several weeks ago.  We have yet to visit the doctor to get the official clearance, but all signs point to a developing life.  Ours--that is--but oh yeah, you seem to be growing too and keeping mom up through all hours of the night.  We have no idea if you are a boy or girl or both (twins, that is).  What we do know, however, is that we have always been the perfect parents until now that we are actually going to be parents.  We can get other kids off drugs, mind in public places, succeed in school, and even have his haircut -- we have a 100% success rate with all children not our own.  Of course, these are all in our imagination as we stand on the sidelines watching struggling parents wrestle through life with their kids.  But now we are on the wrestling mat and it seems that everything is now different.  Everything is different.  Everything.

So as I lied (laid? I don't know--hopefully you will by 8th grade English) awake in bed last night visions of sugarplum ferries were not what were dancing in my head.  I was having visions of all the things I know nothing about--chiefly on parenting.  So either in an effort to give myself a crash course on what it means to be a father, or as a living record for you to know how clueless I really am, I decided I would write you some letters as we prepare for your entrance into the world.  You are due to land towards the end of April so we have some time yet.  Time for your mother and me to do all the things that expecting parents are supposed to do--except for the fact that we have no idea what expecting parents are supposed to do.

Your name is not Malcolm, by the way.  Not that I don't like the name, I do.  In fact, your mom's family has a long-time family friend whose name is Malcolm and if you grow up to be a little more like him I would not be disappointed.  Rather, Malcolm was an imaginary friend of C.S. Lewis who "exchanged" letters with one another "chiefly on prayer" which is the subtitle to the book Letters to Malcolm.  C.S. Lewis was a man who knew a lot about prayer from years and years of practice.  So in the exact opposite way, you are not imaginary and I know nothing about parenting (or prayer for that matter).  Somehow in my mind this seemed to fit together.  Work with me here.

Love,
Dad