I had a moment of clarity this weekend.
My 3-year-old son, Will, and I went on an afternoon hike in the Sierra Mountain foothills while the rest of my wife’s family was preparing dinner. We decided to check out what was behind the condo we were all staying in for the week.
As we got further away from the buildings, we walked up a steep hill and ended up on a huge plateau overlooking a small town way below, many rolling hills, forests and a pond. The sun was setting and the high mountain peaks were way off in the distance. It was gorgeous. We talked about everything we could see and I just wanted to capture that moment forever with my son. Enjoying that would have been enough, but the real kicker came just a few minutes later.
Will really wanted to go down the other side to check out the pond, so if we hurried I figured we’d make it back before it was too dark. As we started our trek, I realized that this side had a few more narrow/steep drops to maneuver. At one point, I was either going to have to carry him and risk dropping him, have him go in front of me or somehow guide him walking behind me. I told him that it was going to get tight and he’d have to walk slowly ahead of me while I hold his hand from behind to balance him. After only two steps he stopped and said, “It’ll be ok, because you’re my daddy and you’ll never leave me, right?”
That was it.
Ok, I’m choked up now.
A thousand feelings and thoughts rush through my brain and all I can say is, “Of course buddy. I’ll never leave you. I’ll always be here.” He answered as succinctly and confidently as you’d expect of a 3-year-old boy with, “Yep.” He didn’t even turn around. He just gripped my hand and we slowly descended the steep embankment with caution, but ease.
“Yep.” No hesitation. That trust. That confidence. Our children, more than anything, need to know we’ll be there. That we’ll forgive them. That we’ll love them through whatever mistakes they make. We may be upset and there may be consequences, but we’ll be there.
I thought about how I’ll not always be there, because I have to work, etc. But, I’m accessible. I’m present in his life. I want to know him deeply.
That clarity moment led to one of dread. I won’t always be there. It’s the truth. The truth of mortality. I didn’t drop that on my 3-year-old in a moment of need, but I couldn’t help thinking about how someday I would leave him. I think that hit me even harder. It made me, even more, want to be with him. Hold his hand. Ask him questions. Teach him and learn from him.
This was all swooping through my brain as we walked and talked and finally a sense of joy and peace overwhelmed me.
Wait…He’ll never be alone. Even when I’m gone one day.
He has another Father. We all do. His name is Jesus.
Daily we walk with Him and when He says that He’ll always be there, we can confidently say, “Yep.” He wants the same thing as I want with my son. To know us. To be with us. To encourage us and hold our hands as we climb through the trails and trials of this life. He will never leave us.
Before ascended into heaven, He had one last thing to say, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus – Matthew 28:20 Being God, He is ever present. He will never leave you. Even if you’ve turned your back or left church for a long time, He’s waiting with open arms to welcome you back, because He’s done all the work for us. Through His death and resurrection He saved us and those that believe it will live with Him forever in Heaven. One day, I’ll leave Will for a time, but we’ll be together with our Heavenly Father forever.
Having that joy and clarity brought a huge smile to my face.