I’m not sure, but I think my son, Daniel, once had shades of Snoopy lingering in his thoughts. You know, that particular image of Snoopy perched in a tree like a vulture keeping watch over everything below. Ready to pounce. Ready to provide. Ready to protect.
It happened during that period of time when a mom and dad begin to nudge the responsibility and self-discipline training to the next level. Daniel was about 10 years old. Vanita and I had discussed some timing issues and some method issues regarding Daniel’s training. One of the items we chose was to leave him at home alone for a half hour or so.
“Daniel, we need to run to the store real quick. Matthew wants to go. Of course, Jessica is coming with us. Would you like to go or would you like to stay here and look after the house?”
Now all ya’ll know where this was designed to go. And it did.
“Really? I can stay here,” he asked.
“Yes. You’ll need to be very responsible. You know the house rules, right?”
“Yeah, I can do it!”
“Right, we know you can. So, okay, we won’t be long.”
Driving away produced no small amount of stress, but drive away we did. Training goes like that. A little older…a little more instruction…a little more responsibility…a little more autonomy to achieve success…a little more grace for the slips…and a whole lot of praying. We drove away with the stress and moderated it with the praying.
All these years later, I’m happy to report success. Back then, well, let’s just say I wasn’t always so sure.
We were anxious to get home, but we gave Daniel the time we had predetermined. We pulled into the drive way…and the excitement began. Daniel came on the run…not from the front door, not from the back door, but from up in a tree.
The tree was one of his favorite toys. It was one of those classic climbing trees. Situated just off the front porch and overlooking the front door, it provided a low branch for a swing and a tall climb for rambunctious kids. Apparently, it also provided Daniel with a fantastic ninja position.
“Dad, Dad…Mom, I saw this lady. I saw her.”
“What lady, Daniel?”
“The lady, the lady walking up the street. I could tell she was gonna come to our house.”
“Did she come to the house?”
“Yeah, I knew she would.”
“Oh, Daniel, did she knock on the door or anything?”
“Uh-huh, I knew she would.”
“You didn’t answer, did you? You know you’re not supposed to do that.”
“No, no, I didn’t. I couldn’t.”
A little bewildered, we just kind of stood there looking perplexed.
“I couldn’t answer the door. Instead, I said, ‘Who goes there!?’”
“What,” his Mother asked.
Daniel answered, “I said, ‘Hey, who goes there,’ and the lady jumped and screamed. I took care of it, Dad.”
“Daniel, wait, wait. What are you talking about,” I asked.
“Well, when you left, I was kinda scared, but I wanted to take care of everything, so I decided to climb the tree. That way I could be safe and watch over everything. So, I grabbed the hatchet…”
“The hatchet? Daniel, what? Why the hatchet? You know it only has certain uses and I need to be around when you use it,” I said with a nod to authority. On the inside, though, I knew where this was going and my Father/Daddy/Papa/Dear ‘ol Dad pride meter was climbing at break-neck speed.
“Yeah, the hatchet, Dad. (Breathing kind of fast) I was a little scared, but I knew I had to protect everything, (breathing a little harder) so I got the hatchet, (taking a gulp of air) turned everything off, locked the doors, put the key in my pocket, and climbed to the top of the tree. (Big breath, from corner to corner his smile stretched as far as the east is from the west). I did it Dad. Everything’s okay.”
“And the lady,” we asked.
“Oh, after she screamed and asked what I was doing in the tree, she left.”
Just like that, it was okay. It was okay.
Mom gave him a big, long hug.
I gave him a high five.
It was okay. Still is.
In just less than two weeks, Daniel will marry the lady for whom he has been praying, hoping, and looking for since he was a teenager. Her name is Abby. Daniel will perch over her. He will protect her and provide for her. He will pray with her, play with her, plan with her, and parent with her. He will be passionate about her. peaceful for her, and patient with her. Because he has such a wonderful Dad. No, take it easy, I’m not talking about myself. At night, before falling asleep, he’ll check in with Dad. After each long day he will say, “Dad, Abba Father, I did it. Everything is okay. The house is locked up. Abby is safe. (One day, hopefully) The kids are okay. I did it, Father. Everything is okay. Thank you. Amen.”
Here’s the important part…
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Update: Daniel and Abby, happily married, love one another and our Lord more and more everyday, help others and their little Rachel to do the same thing, and expect a brand new little baby boy any day now!