We’ve had a very busy summer and I can’t remember everyplace we’ve been. So I’m not totally sure where I had my “moment.” You know that “moment” that occasionally hits you like a bolt out of the sky. We might have been at the Waffle House in Georgia. I certainly can’t remember which Waffle House in Georgia because there are more Waffle Houses in Georgia than there are politicians with new resumes in Washington D.C. For instance we were once at a Waffle House where when we sat down and looked out the window and across the interstate highway there was another Waffle House. Across the street from there was a new Waffle House being built. When we got in our car to leave, the empty lot beside us had a sign that read, “Coming Soon, A New Waffle House Restaurant to serve you better!” So the possibilities of me having a “moment” in the Waffle House are astronomical! Anyway, there at the “House,” (I’m trying not to use Waffle again) wrestling with which syrup to use, the thought came to me that I suddenly missed my two sons, Josh and Caleb. It wasn’t just a little twinge, it was a full blown hurt. I can’t describe it. I tried to explain it to Betty, my wife, but couldn’t come close to what I was feeling. She thought I had gotten bad “pancakes,” (once again, trying not to use the word Waffle) My sons have been a great joy in my life. They grew up with us on the road together. When they were little, we had a lot of what we call “windshield time.” We’d be in that old motorhome in the middle of the night, traveling from one church to another talking about any and everything. Much of the world’s major problems were discussed and solved behind that windshield. For years they were part of the New Life Band with their mother and me. They sang and played guitars and ministered with us for most of their childhood. We would be in front of thousands of students, leading them in praise and worship of God our Father. I would look around and see my sons and wife on stage with me, to minister to so many people, and it was wondrous. It was a hoot! (Old people use words like hoot). Then came college and life in general and they headed their own way. We wanted that for them. Betty and I had devoted our lives to preparing them for that moment. But when you least expect it, BAM! It just hits that you miss them. Not so much the times you’ve shared, but just their personal presence. That’s what happened to me at the Waffle House in Georgia. I just had a moment of missing my boys that was overwhelming.
I’m not for sure what transpired that week when we got home between the boys and their mother. But suddenly there were plans for us three guys to have some guy time. I don’t know what Betty said or if maybe she even threatened them. Maybe she suggested something about them losing their inheritance. (Little do they know that ship sailed long ago. Twenty dollars in my bank account and a Timex watch that I got on sale in 1993 is not really much of a bargaining chip!) In any case, a time was set and a place designated for a “get together.” A monday through thursday in August at Lake Ouachita (Washita) in Arkansas. We met on a houseboat that monday for our retreat. When my boys were born, I had imagined some of the really neat things we would do together when they became men. I dreamed of hunting grizzly bear in Alaska, or riding Harley’s on the open road in Colorado, or climbing Mount Everest and seeing a panoramic view of the earth from so high up. So, what did we do on our holiday? Well, we did “hunt” for a Pizza Hut in Hot Springs. We did get to ride Jet Skis on a pond. As far as climbing goes, we did climb into some Lazy Boy’s and watched reruns from some of our favorite old sitcoms. (For some reason those shows were funnier with the boys.)
We talked about everything you can think of. It was like the windshield was in front of us again. We talked about politics, of which none of us understand. We talked about our wives, of which none of us understand. We discussed electricity, wind, milk, dogs, cats, (I know you have a cat Caleb, but dogs still rule!) We talked about church and the bible. We did a verbal book report on “Catcher in the Rye.” (You had to be there.) We talked about eagles, junk food, hell, football, basketball, (not hockey), sailing, and a bunch of other stuff. Oh yeah, and we ate.
We ate all the time for four straight days. I don’t know what we ate, just large quantities of food and food like substances. After a while we didn’t even look down, we just kept chewing and talking. Josh’s wife, Emily, called him seven times while were there. Every time she called, he was eating something. For four days she never understood a thing he said. I love Mars candy bars. The only place you can find them in this universe seems to be in Durango, Colorado at the Walmart store there. That’s where Caleb and his wife Nadene live! So Caleb brought a whole box of Mars bars with him. In the next two days there were so many Mars bars candy wrappers laying around, it looked like confetti at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. There were even candy wrappers in the bathroom. The BATHROOM! Think about it…or don’t. We laughed, we cried, we made noises, we yelled, (the yelling usually came in response to the noises!) And you know what? I had a hoot!! I just needed to be around them for a little while to get my balance back.
When Joshua and Caleb were little, I would come home sometimes late at night. They were snuggled into their beds after Betty had bathed them and put them to sleep. I remember, so many times, kneeling by both of their beds. The were so small and smelled like coconut from the soap their mom had used on them. I prayed for them there. I first prayed for their salvation, then for their health, then for their future wives. It was a sweet ritual for me when I couldn’t be there to tuck them in. On wednesday night, our last night at the boat, for some reason, I woke up very, very early in the morning. I was moved to go to the boys rooms and pray for them. As I knelt, I had this wonderful flood of memories from their childhood. They weren’t small like they used to be and they certainly didn’t smell like coconut! It was more of a pizza/meatloaf sandwich smell, but they were still my boys. I first prayed that they wouldn’t wake up while I was hovering over them. That would have been a little strange. Then I thanked God for their salvation, I thanked God for their health, and I thanked God for their wonderful wives that I had prayed for years ago. (I prayed good on that last one, didn’t I boys!) My heart just soared as I once again took them to the throne of God. I miss those little boys of long ago. They were so sweet and loving. But you know, I kind of like these new guys. Ever so often that sweetness and loving show up. It did for me that week. In John 3:4, John says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” Now I’m sure that ole John was referring to his young converts to the faith, but this really works well for me right now. (Sorry about the context abuse Josh!) My children love the Lord and what more could I ask. They are a joy to my life. My “moment” is over now and I am refreshed. Thanks boys for the time, it will be another wondrous memory for me. Maybe we can do it again sometime. Hey, let’s meet at Waffle House and plan it!