Becoming a True Son - Part 2
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I was on my knees beside my son's bed with my hands spread across his trembling body. In surrender I had just thrown my earthly weapons down. I knew I was at war for the heart of my son, but it appeared Baer and I had both become casualties.
He was a frightful sight with his tear-filled eyes, a son who'd been pushed by his father to the point of exasperation. He had just confessed his fear of spending a few weeks with me alone on vacation in Colorado. With my face buried in his skinny legs I felt shame washing over me again. Like a man caught in a tide, I was worn out from the exertion of trying to get back to shore. If deliverance was to come, it was going to come from someplace outside of me.
Much Better now
After there were no more words and tears, the room fell silent. All I knew to do was keep this prayer repeating inside my chest...
"God I cannot do this. Teach me how to father him. I don't know how. I need you to father me. What do I do?"
Then came the voice. It wasn't audible, but it was unavoidable.
I couldn't tell if it was my desperation or it was truly the Spirit speaking. I had never audibly prayed warfare prayers over my son so I was concerned it might push him even further away, but I had just asked God for help and it seemed He was answering.
So I asked, "Buddy can you tell me what you are hearing and feeling right now?"
At first he was only able to articulate his fear of disappointing me. So we obeyed the commandment in James 4:7, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
In Jesus' name, with firm voice and with both hands laid on my 12-year old son's body I commanded fear to leave.
"What else Baer? How about shame?"
"Are you afraid of me comparing you to other boys."
"Do you feel anxious about doing something new?"
One by one, I asked him simple questions to identify the tribe of assaulting voices, and we bound them all in Jesus' name, sending them to dry places. The strong man was clearly fear. As we engaged, the Spirit was educating me on how I'd been feeding some of these fears, so I named, owned and repented for my sins against him. When the battle appeared to be over I asked him how he was feeling.
"Much better actually!"
"Do you still feel afraid?" I asked.
His entire countenance had evolved from hurt to hopeful in the span of about 15 minutes. He was feeling none of what had buried him moments before, and he was now excited to go on our trip.
That was the first time, as father and son, we engaged the enemy in prayer, and it was a stunning victory.
As with all men who share war stories, a new bond had been forged and Baer's cognitive understanding that Jesus' name carries power became experiential.
Unless a kernal falls
I've sat at the feet of enough good men to know that fathering is an impossible task by design. But still God entrusts it to men, knowing one day it will bring us into a war we cannot win outside of an alliance with Him.
Like a whale, even with all it's mighty strength is designed to continually return to the surface for air, so are we designed to always return to Father to have our needs met.
Surely sonship and manhood are interchangeable terms in the Kingdom of God. Growth in both offices is attainable only through acts of ever-increasing courage where more and more of us grows to require more and more of our Father. A man's/son's substance is built on his courage to trust that his Father always knows best, is always training us, always loves, is always up to something good, and will always show up on time.
Our initiation into full-fledged sons requires risk. We have to hand over our idols of control and self-reliance, then trust Father as He burns them to ashes. There comes a time to quit being a rebellious teenager and become a man. Only out of the orphan's ashes can a true son arise. Only by the death of the boy can an authentic man be resurrected. This is true circumcision. And this is true baptism.
“The hardest, gladdest thing in the world is, to cry Father! from a full heart. — George MacDonald
Taking the Land Promised
What I learned in those painful minutes hunched over my son's bed is changing both me and my son. That lesson in strength through submission is proving applicable in every arena of my life, teaching me to walk like Christ, with Father beside me, onto fields of battle where victory without Him is impossible. And I get to do it with my son as a witness and fellow combatant.
That was almost 4 years ago today.
We did make it to Colorado, and that victory would prove to be a first fruits, like Jericho, in a succession of more difficult battles that were soon to follow.
We have a promise from God over our relationship. There is sacred ground we are being invited to hunt down and recover in a land of giants. It is there for the taking, but it will require going into a war I cannot win alone.
I've decided who I am taking with me.
P.S. Baer is now driving. Fathering a teenager toward godliness is like naval warfare; you must learn to aim and fire at the enemy while navigating the unpredictable seas of adolescence. The battle is harrowing, but also glorious with Father at the helm. My son and I feel alive in the battle.