The Words I Don’t Have

I have been told on more than one occasion that I’m the guy that always knows what to say. Though I know better, it does encourage me to use the gifts I’ve been given. But today I have far more questions than answers. How do I say (or write) the words I just don’t have.

Yet another horrific occurrence has taken place this week as a man’s life was snuffed out for fear he would continue to resist. Fear is a dangerous thing on every side of situations like that. Fear makes one man cower and another man bow up. Fear makes the pulse race and the options fade. Fear makes the person that is different from me seem dangerous to me.

Fear lies.

And while it lies to me, it keeps me from hearing the truth that I know in my calm, thoughtful, clear moments.

But it keeps happening. And it keeps happening to the same unique population within our country. Brothers and sisters, made in the image of God, whose lives are cut short due to fear, keep dying in bad situations poorly handled.

And here in my comfortable office in my comfortable community far, far away from those cold big-city streets, fear works on me. It tells me I don’t have anything to say. It tells me I can’t speak about the injustice because I shouldn’t offend my friends and neighbors in law enforcement. It tells me I can’t speak because I don’t spend time with people who look different from me. It tells me I can’t speak because I am the textbook middle aged white man.

But… fear lies.

There are a significant number of young men in this world that call me dad or for whom I have a father-like role. Three of those young men in particular look very different from me. They look a lot more like the man being held down by his neck than the officer kneeling thereon.

These young men are people I have not only an opportunity but a God-given responsibility to speak to about the hard realities of life. These are the ones to whom I must speak… wisely, carefully, deliberately.

These are the ones who so need the words I don’t have. I can’t say why someone who looks like me could hate someone that looks like them. I can’t explain why I will probably always whisper a prayer without words for their protection when they leave my presence just because they will face stuff  that their brothers who were born to me never will.

At least for this moment, I’m the dad in their lives. And no amount of wise words or good teaching or careful warning will prevent someone from fearing them because they look different.

God help me! I want to say something—to them, to you, to anyone who might read these words… I want to express my outrage and my fear and my embarrassment that stuff like this still happens in this place we still somehow call the land of the free.

How do I say the words I don’t have?

A Boy and His Dream

This morning we did something that we’ve done a few times before. We took one of our kids to their next and most exciting adventure yet…and then drove away. It’s always hard, but this one was different.

My son Jon (about whom I have written before) is on his way to Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. In about four months he will come home and go to college. And, when he returns, he will be a different person – a different man – than the one that we hugged goodbye today.

I’m so excited for him. All of his life, from the time he could even formulate the words, he has wanted to be “an army guy.” He is living that dream – with all of the hardship and hurt and the exhilaration and adventure that goes with it.

And I’m anxious for him. He is away from friends and family. He will have very limited contact with any of us. And he will be pushed physically, mentally, emotionally, and probably spiritually like he has never been tested before.

Continue reading A Boy and His Dream

And They’re Off…

A couple of months ago I wrote a post called “My World-Changers.” (Read it here)

Today, we hugged these amazing kids of ours – who are, in many ways, far more grown-up than I am – and let them go. As I write this, they are taking off in Houston and in a few hours will be landing in Honduras. It’s exciting. And it’s terrifying.

As we have prepared over the last couple of weeks to send them on their way, I have sensed this resonant whisper in my spirit. It seems my Father’s constant reminder has been something like this: “This is what you raised them to do – to follow Me wherever I lead and to join Me in what I am doing.”

Of course, He’s right. He always is.

That doesn’t take the fear away or drive out the tears. But it does something much better – much greater. It’s makes them worth it. It makes the fear and anxiety and the sadness matter. It makes it mean something.
Continue reading And They’re Off…