Our oldest son, who we refer to as the 30 year old that used to live at our house, has three kids. The youngest is Sterling and he is barely 5 years old. He is one of those kids that is hard not to like – it doesn’t matter if you are related to him or not. The fact that Sterling loves the world’s greatest border collie named Champ doesn’t hurt the relationship either.
The 30 year old who is a seminary student in Philadelphia was telling me that while they were in church a few weeks ago he noticed Sterling was chewing gum. Now, I know you are not supposed to chew gum while you are in church but what made the situation worst is that no one had given Sterling any gum. The 30 year old quickly realized this was what we call “ABC” gum (Already Been Chewed). I still feel queasy just thinking about a child that is related by blood to me doing something as awful as pulling gum out from underneath a church pew and if that is not bad enough he stuck it in his mouth and chewed it! Obviously, he has none of his grandfather’s germ freak DNA.
Our oldest did what any dad would do – he stuck his hand out and asked Sterling to give it up. It’s a brave dad that will take a bullet for his son and handle (without gloves or any protective clothing) whatever you call ABC gum when it has been chewed twice by two different people (do they even have a name for that?)
OK, here is where it gets worst. Rather than spit it out – you guessed it, Sterling swallowed it! Makes my trip to the dentist look like cake walk.
The 30 year old was devastated. I tried to encourage him and told him, “If it does not kill you it only makes you stronger.” (I’m not sure it helped but as dads we do the best we can, right?) No doubt, Sterling must be the strongest kid on the planet because he is still with us.
But here is the deal. We love our kids don’t we? I am reading a book entitled “One Way Love” and it’s about grace. The author of the book, Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham’s grandson), tells about his fiancé becoming pregnant with his child. He hated to share the news with his family but when he did, his dad just hugged them, cried with them and told them it was going to be OK. I think they call this mercy.
God’s love is unconditional. Our love for others is to be equally unselfish. We should love and encourage our kids whether it’s an unplanned pregnancy or ABC gum. I wish I had some do overs, how about you? I guess as a grandparent you realize the sun is going to come up in the morning regardless of what has happened. We have an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient Heavenly Father who cares deeply about His children – the question maybe is how much do His children care about Him.
He asked me to ask you that. See you Sunday!
Ken Ansell is the pastor of Community Life Church in Waxahachie.