“The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.”Proverbs 23:24
Nathaniel Rosendo Mendez was born in June 2003. He came into this world larger than life as he was the biggest newborn ever in our family. He had an insatiable appetite and he never slept. We would rock him to sleep only to find that when we tried to lay him down, his eyes were wide open, and he was just waiting to cry the second his body touched the crib mattress. Our eyes were bloodshot and we would forget what day of the week it was. Rebekah was exhausted to the point that if she was only able to take a shower, she felt she was winning the day. Nate brought many challenges to a young couple who were desperately trying to raise their firstborn child. The books never mentioned what to do when he didn’t sleep and what to do when he never seemed to get full. Mr. Sandman never visited our house in those first ten months, even though I put in many complaints that he was never around.
We wanted things to be perfect for our baby, but perfection never comes from imperfect people. Before we had kids, we promised to never let the TV babysit them, but Nate loved a silly cartoon that captured his attention long enough for us to find Mr. Sandman ourselves. We would grow tired of his crying and bring him into our bed only to wake up to him crying because he fell out of the bed. When he was only two months old, I put him in the hammock on the patio while I cut the grass, only to forget about him after I finished, and I could hear his cries from outside while I was getting ready for work inside. I grew angry at him over the years for not sleeping, for missing assignments in school, and for not doing things exactly the way I wanted them done. I once grew so angry with him that I punched my steering wheel so hard I am surprised my airbag did not deploy. I provoked him to wrath many times, and I was convicted that I needed to apologize to him and make things right.
Ephesians 6:4 tells us, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture (training) and admonition of the Lord.” The Devil whispers in my ear my many shortcomings as a father, but I remind him that I asked forgiveness for those sins, and God is bigger than my failures. We did our best to raise Nate up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and we dedicated him to God when he was only a few days old. He has had his struggles with sin as we all do, but I am proud of the young man he is becoming. He graduated high school, and I became overwhelmed by feelings I did not know I even had. I guess I did not realize how quickly time went by, and I mourned the little boy who was now a young man and taking the next step in life. He was no longer my little boy, but he was there on stage, moving his graduation cap tassel to the other side and headed for bigger and better things. The week was capped off by both Nate and Kate getting baptized and my heart was truly full.
Nate signed up to work at a Christian camp for the summer, and I did not realize how much I would miss him. We came home after dropping him off at camp, and we were all overcome by grief, which I expected from my wife, but not from myself. I got into a funk until I realized how God would work in his life that summer, and how proud I was that he was doing something of eternal value. Selfishly, I wished he was home, but I am grateful that he chose to spend the summer at a Christian camp. He was exposed to men of God who preached the Word, and he was devoid of a cell phone signal, which would be good for all of us. I hardly recognized him when I saw him again, but my prayer is that he looks more like Christ everyday.
I think of all the times I wasted as a youth, and I am grateful to God that Nate did not choose to do the same. Do or would your parents have joy of you? Do you honor them by the way you live your life? More importantly, do you honor your Heavenly Father by the way you live your life? May we live our life in the light of eternity, and may we one day rejoice when we see our Father face to face. What will you do with your summer? Will you simply work on your tan or will you draw close to the Son? May our time be spent pleasing God, and may we give our all to Him.