Please… It’s My Son

I’ve never had the terrifying experience of a child with a life-threatening illness or injury.

I can hardly imagine what I might do to find an answer—a cure or a procedure or a treatment.

I can imagine that I would have some hard, not-at-all-pretty prayer conversations with God. I expect most of them would not be deemed “Sunday-School Appropriate” by most standards.

I think that is the earnest longing captured some years back by Mark Schultz in his hauntingly beautiful song, “He’s My Son.” Take a minute to listen to the yearning within it.

You hear that longing, don’t you? You can hear that desperation and agonizing desire for the healing of the son. It’s the kind of desperation that would press a well-revered man, a leader in the community, to take off on foot to the village 15 miles or so down the road because he heard that Jesus, the man that healed so many people in Bethsaida and turned water to wine in Cana, had come back to the area.

15 miles.

On foot.

One way.

That’s desperation.

[Read John 4.43-54]

After a couple of days spent in the Samaritan village of Sychar, Jesus finally made it back over into Galilee, where he had grown up. It was a strange thing for him to return here. As he had observed, according to verse 44, a prophet is seldom well-received by the people who saw him grow up.

Still, even here in where he was raised, the people had heard of the miraculous things he had been doing. Many of the people here had made the trip to Jerusalem themselves for the feast.(45) And so he returned to the place at which his first recorded miracle had taken place, the town of Cana.

The text tells of an official from Capernaum “whose son was ill.”(46) He had made the journey, about 15 miles or so, to where Jesus was.

When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.”(47)

Jesus makes what seems kind of an odd statement.

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”(48)

The man clearly did not come here to discuss theology and doesn’t seem particularly interested in hearing a sermon or being taught a lesson. His son is near death. His only hope is that the one who has done so many unexplainable things might choose to come and heal his son.

This is precisely why I think it’s so important that we be about the work of helping meet the immediate needs of people—because it’s often very difficult to hear the truth of the gospel over the groans of the dying loved one or the screams of the sick baby or the howling winds from which they have no shelter or even the growling of their own empty belly.

The man simply begged Jesus to come and heal his son.

The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”(49)

Jesus, evidently moved by the man’s worry for his child, does something even better.

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.”(50a)

He granted immediate healing for the man’s son without even having to go and see the child in person. He met the man’s need. And the man “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.”(50b)

The rest of the passage relays how the official’s servants met him as he made the trek back to Capernaum and brought him the news that the boy’s fever had broken and he was recovering—he would live!(51)

The man asked when things turned around and indeed it was at the very moment that Jesus had spoken the promise, “Your son will live.”(52-53a) But we must see the ripples of this healing action that Jesus took:

And he himself believed, and all his household.(53b)

People saw what Jesus did with merely the word of his mouth. They believed that Jesus was the promised One.

I suspect you would too… if it was your son.

Jesus stepped into the mess of disease and disability and brought healing.

He doesn’t always answer this way. He doesn’t always heal. But the hope of the gospel is the very real, very sure promise that ultimate healing will be found by all who believe in Him.

See Him as your healing.

Believe Him—that He came to heal you completely.

Know Him as your medicine, your therapy, your transplant, your wholeness.

The Guy that Does the “Woohoo!”

Tomorrow is my last big band contest as a high school band dad.

I will grill (with great help from some other dads) about 70 pounds of chicken. I will ice down the bottled water and load the ice chests in the trailer. I will don my Duncan Band Boosters hat (one-of-a-kind, I might add) and may even take up one of those little red flags.

I will do my best to gather as many of the other parents together up high in the middle as I can. I won’t be able to sit still while the band before ours gets out of the way.

And just as our band starts into the stadium, while it’s still relatively quiet in the place, I will do what has almost gotten me smacked a number of times and often gets me disdainful scowls from startled people in front of us.

You see, I’m the guy that does the “Woohoo!”

I’ve been doing it for ten years now. I guess this makes my eleventh season.

I do it when it’s quiet, before the applause and the music. I do it between songs and at random times. The kids know it’s me. They ask me about it if, for some reason, I’m not there.

It’s just who I am—the guy that does the “Woohoo!”

I don’t think they know why.

I used to be a band director before I became a pastor. I was usually pretty good at getting my students fired up for a performance. Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that great at getting them musically prepared for the performance… but we all have to learn to work out of our strengths, right?

Now, I’m a band dad. It means I’m not looking to see what they mess up. I’m not watching to see what to fix next.

I’m a dad. And, though not all of those kids out there are mine, they are mine by association. Besides, seems like half of them have been around our table at one time or another.

I woohoo when they’re coming into the stadium so they will know that the other parents and I are in our places and ready to celebrate their performance.

I woohoo when it’s quiet, before the music begins, so they will know that I already think they’re the best band of the day—my personal favorite.

I woohoo so that my kids and their friends will know that I’m watching them and cheering for them and so excited to hear the music that is in them come pouring out through their instruments.

I woohoo so that every parent and spectator from every other band in that place knows those are my kids. That’s my band. This is our turn to fill the place with music.

I woohoo to let these students know that I am ready to do my part—to lean in and listen hard and watch closely and experience the music in sight and in sound with them.

It’s our last big head-to-head competition marching contest of the season tomorrow. And I will be there. And maybe this time those kids will hear that familiar sound and know that they are already champions in my book. Maybe they will hear it and that jolt of excitement will spring through their nervous system and they will play with more intensity and more attention and more passion than ever before.

I’m the guy that does the “Woohoo!”

And one last time under the lights tomorrow night I want to bounce it off the visitor’s bleachers and fill the stadium with that familiar, annoying, silly sound.

It’s what I do. Now you know why.

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