Two of my children are away tonight, with my wife, on a church youth mission trip in North Carolina.  They have gone to help a small church with ‘Backyard Bible Studies,’ and to do a kind of VBS for a church with fewer resources.  I have my youngest, Elijah and Elysabeth, 9 and 7 years respectively, to keep me company.  As I write, they’re passed out on the floor of my room, where I have pulled small mattresses.  Camping out in Papa’s room is a kind of tradition when Mama is out of town.  And vice-versa, of course.

My children have a tradition of giving me a knife for Father’s Day.  It’s a gift I always love, having collected knives since my grandfather taught me to do the same many years before.  As I write, a shiny Scottish dirk with a Red Deer handle and leather sheath sits by my computer, reminder of the love of my wife and children, and of the way I have tried to teach my sons and daughter that we must be kind, good and gentle, but also fierce, bold and capable.  My sons and daughter are my own warrior clan.

It’s odd, though, having some of them away on Father’s Day.  I could pout a little and walk about in a little funk.  But as soon as I realized they would be gone, and realized why, I have been proud.  See, I love having them nearby.  I’d keep them near me as long as they would stay.  My children are the embodiment of dreams known and unknown; the gifts God sent me when I deserved nothing; and when I needed them more than I ever realized.

But they’re away on a mission, and I’m proud.  They are learning service, learning perspective, learning courage and leadership, learning to spread the Gospel that their mother and I have been imparting to them since we first whispered prayers over their infant faces, fresh from the womb.  .They are becoming what we hoped.  Servants and friends of God, servants and friends of mankind.

In Psalm 127: 3-5, it says ‘Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.’

I once heard a preacher say, of this verse, ‘What do we do with an arrow?  We shoot it at the enemy.’  I wish I could take credit for that line, but I can’t.  I think it may have been from the dear, departed Rev. Adrian Rogers, of blessed memory.

But tonight, my quiver is not full; two of my arrows are fired out into the night, across this state and into the next.  And in the skirmish where souls matter, where the lives of  children in a poor neighborhood are in need of evangelism, of laughter, of play, music and friendship, my sons are part of the fight for good and hope; part of the greater war; Christian soldiers for Jesus.

I’d love to have them here.  But they’re arrows in the hands of their heavenly Father this week, and I’m proud.  I pray they fly true when he looses the string of his great bow.

Happy Fathers’ Day to all of my fellow warriors!

Your friend,

Edwin

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