Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When Your Son Is a Soldier

I was putting away clean dishes and packing lunch boxes, but Adrian and his dad were hunched over a screen before breakfast or even coffee. I leaned over Adrian's shoulder to see what commanded such early attention, and I saw the string of comments numbered 99.

It had started with Adrian's Facebook status that read, "Try Jesus, if it doesn't work out the devil will always take you back." It sparked a discussion debate about evolution, the need for proof, and a rationalizing away of 16 years of faith with flippant condescension and quite a few four letter words. The main players were a self-proclaimed high school atheist, a kid from the neighborhood who contributed only foul language, a smart kid who dusted off everything he had ever learned in science class, and my son who, together with his faith, was the evening's punching bag.

As I listened and made turkey sandwiches, I began to feel animal instinct in my gut. Not trusting the mama bear awakening from hibernation inside me, I remained quiet. Mike had some pointers for Adrian about how to move away from argument by asking questions to get his friends to think through issues and draw their own logical conclusions. Adrian had bowed out of the Facebook conversation at about midnight, at 70 comments. He was hoping to continue the discussion at school face to face.  He had also hoped to leave the thread on Facebook for others to read, but the comments continued without him or the Light of Christ.  His Facebook wall had become a platform for others rather than for himself, so at 107 comments, he hit delete.

With the touch of one button, all those cyber-words disappeared forever. Or did they? Words are powerful. It's quite amazing for little intangible things to go out into time and space unseen, without being able to be held or captured or retracted, and carry such weight to direct future relations and events. It's quite remarkable really.

Later that day, the mama bear storm still threatening inside me, I read through some of those comments (before they were removed). I still had nothing to say about any of this for fear that what would come out of me would be protection for my little boy rather than encouragement for a soldier of the Lord to stand firm after he had done all, Paul's wise words to those he fathered in the faith when they were being attacked.

Apparently that's a dad thing, not a mom thing, because Mike carried that early morning conversation with him throughout the day yesterday too. But rather than remain quiet, he found words to uphold Adrian, and Adrian texted words that shined bright right back to his dad.

Before I share the text messages between father and son, I need to set the stage for one of the comments. Our family is reading Not a Fan by Kyle Ideman out loud together at the dinner table each night. The premise of the book is to highlight the biblical difference between a true follower and a fan. It has been a great book to ponder as a family because being a true follower is quite the challenge to live out daily. Each chapter ends with a real person's testimony of choosing to really follow Christ and be more than a fair-weather fan. Each testimony ends with that person's admission: My name is Jacob Carter, and I am not a fan.

Here's how the text conversation between Mike and Adrian went yesterday:

 Father: I was moved at your witness of Christ to those guys on Facebook. I believe it also revealed how lost they are. You also got to enter into the fellowship of suffering with Christ. How precious it is to identify with Jesus.
Son:  They were laughing at me at lunch today. It was embarrassing! Everyone was like “what the heck?” But I rejoice because God was mocked and laughed at, so that means they didn’t hurt me. They only helped me look like Christ even more!
Father:  Awesome! This is so good, Jesus said happy are you when people insult you and persecute you because you are MY FOLLOWERS! Matt 5:11 – you are not a fan. J

How glad I am that a father can find his words when a mother can't.

How good it feels when being proud of your boy-soldier is what finally tames the mama bear inside.


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