I’m in the South for the summer, the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina where the breezes are cool and temperature moderate. The mountains are exempt from the heat and humidity of the rest of the South, but not from country music.
I heard an old favorite of the country music canon this afternoon, George Strait’s “A Father’s Love.” The story is of a father telling his son how fathers love their children—“Daddy’s don’t just love their children every now and then. It’s a love without end. Amen.” It is not at all unlike, though folksier than, St. Paul’s words to the church in Rome:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)
It is an ideal no human father meets completely, and it is one, I suspect, certainly no less and probably more, exemplified by mothers.
George Strait’s words, and Paul’s, helped me remember something my own father once said to me that has a particular relevance to me now. I think I must have been in those difficult teenage years and probably instructing my father on his manifest imperfections. He looked me in the eye and said, “Son, you will never know how much your dad loves you until you have children of your own.”
I remembered those words when my first child Andrew came into my life. I remembered them again when his brother Matthew came along. Andrew and Matthew, just as my dad (and George Strait) predicted, taught me the depth of human love that I had never even imagined before. It is a love that suggests, even in a small way, something of divine love for us all.
All this has given expression to something miraculous and wonderful that is stirring deep within my heart right now. I am just weeks away from welcoming our first grandchild into the world. My son Andrew and his wife Jessica have been participants in a miracle. Miracles are events in human life that point toward something about God. This miracle’s name is Sophie Lynn.
A couple of weeks ago, Andrew and Jessica were with my wife Ginger and me here in the mountains. I gazed with amazement at a sonogram of little Sophie’s face just 21 weeks from conception. So young, and still I could see her so clearly. There are no words.
George Strait reminded me today of what my father said. I realized that my older son is about to be confronted with how much I love him (and his brother and his wife) when his daughter, my granddaughter Sophie, comes into the world and changes life in, oh, so many ways. Most importantly, he is about to get a glimpse of God’s love for him that so surpasses mine, which is itself a love “forever and ever. Amen.” Still, it is no more than a hint of the love from which nothing shall separate us. Ever. Amen.