POP! POP! POP!

One sunny Saturday morning, my wife and I were waken abruptly by a strange sound coming from our two-year-old son’s bedroom.

"What on earth is that?" We looked at each other and quickly got up to run to Josh’s room. It’s hard to remember for sure, but I think I beat my wife to his room, and flung the door open hastily. What we saw next we will never forget. There was our angel; our pride and joy; our wonderful little boy with a glowing smile lighting across his adorable face. He seemed very proud of himself and was apparently delighted that we had come to see what he had done.

I can only imagine that if he could have put into words what he was feeling, it would have been something like: "Mom! Dad! Look what I can do!" or "Oh man! You guys gotta try this!" Perhaps he didn’t notice the astonished expressions on our faces. But there he was, grinning proudly, while in his little hands he tightly gripped a bright, shiny, glass Christmas tree ornament.

As we examined the scene more carefully, we saw the broken fragments and remains of several other Christmas tree ornaments. We easily deduced what had taken place, but for a moment stood very still in disbelief.

Now what? Do we laugh, keep from laughing, scold him, get him out of there before he hurts himself…? The answer was obvious: get him to another room, pick up the pieces, scold him, and then get to where he can’t hear us and laugh like crazy. The whole scene was too funny for words.

After all was said and done, I watched him going about his normal routines as though nothing had happened. For him, it was all just part of being a curious, growing boy. There was nothing that was too ominous, unreachable, or sacred in his eyes. All the world was worth exploring, encountering and testing the limits thereof.

I watched him in amazement … and then he looked at me—and it scared me to death.

"Oh no," I thought, "what is that gleam of Cain in my little Abel’s eyes?" There was no question in my mind we would have our hands full with this one.

But as they say, "the nut doesn’t fall too far from the tree." As I watched him grow from tyke to teen, I saw a lot of myself in my son, and it seems that the harder I have tried to guide him away from some mistakes I have made, the more determined he is to learn for himself the very same lessons I have learned. So I pray, and I watch him. I try to give good counsel and be a godly role model. I rest in God for His strength because mine is often tested and tried. And I pray some more.

It’s amazing how much he is like me, and yet, how different. Sometimes it is more than obvious he came from me. Other times I would swear he came from another planet. But by God’s grace and wisdom, I have been given a good relationship with my son. I have been his serious, stern-faced father; and I have been his video game buddy.

I’m not sure what other dads would say, but it has always seemed to me that continuing to play with your kids is something that really helps to keep the relationships close. That has sometimes required me to take interest in things he likes, even if some of those things did not seem all that interesting to me. But I am always glad I took the time—time to play, time to listen to anything and everything he wanted to talk about, and time to put aside my agenda and just be there for him.

I know I am not the world’s greatest dad, although I have a coffee mug that says so. I am not the perfect paternal portrayal from black and white TV shows past. And in my role as father, I do not always know best. But, like so many Christian dads, I simply want to be the best dad I can be—one that tries to take after the Heavenly Father as much as is humanly possible.

As my son nears the end of his teen years, I still watch him. At times, I still catch a gleam in his eyes that concerns me a bit. And though I can’t always stop him before he breaks Christmas ornaments—as it were—I know that God is there. He watches him, and He intercedes for my son in ways I cannot imagine.

It is certainly a comforting thing to know that your child is God’s child as well. I know he is not perfect, but in his heart I see the transforming power of Christ at work, and with that I have a wonderful peace.

And I thank God that even though my son may give in to temptation to raise a little cain as he grows to be a man, his heart belongs to a God who is always, and forever will be, more than able.