"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—" ~ Paul to the Church in Ephesus
"When the son is ready, the Father appears." ~ Morgan Snyder
I remember being terrified at the idea of having a son. There was an inevitability about what would be required of me as a man, different than what would be required by a daughter (in my mind's eye, anyway). Having a son was an essential wake-up call in my own manhood, that sent me on a journey of reconstruction.
By the time my son reached 13, I was stepping more fully into the full work of the cross. I was understanding uncommon freedom and restoration that how somehow eluded me during the first 20 or so years of my spiritual journey. This not only saved my marriage, but gave me the courage to enter into my son's awakening manhood in far more adventurous ways.
With my new friend Alan, we embarked on a season of inviting our boys into manhood. This consisted of monthly meetings with 12 dads while our boys met weekly with a faith-based leader from our area. Once a month we would meet all together for a "gladiator" father/son event. It was all very well intentioned, but we we were somewhat stumbling into our own manhood as we tried to invite others into theirs.
The culmination of this season for me was an "initiation" dinner. Twelve godly men, my son, uncles, grandfathers, and I, would share a big feast, offer attributes of God, and challenge him to pursue the same. There would be steaks, ceremonial gifts (weapons), a movie trailer from the Lord of the Rings (of course), and a initiation blessing by all the men at the end.
What I didn't realize was that my recovering legalism was far fresher than I knew. Like an image in a rearview mirror that is closer than it appears. But, a strange thing happened in the weeks before this scheduled feast that changed everything. Our younger son, Gray, was involved in accident and for a short period of time, we thought we might lose him. The journey to his healing taught me a crucial lesson:
My children belonged to a different father.
I was merely the privileged caregiver for whatever season it took me to hand them over to their true Father. I had learned that God might be a replacement for a bad father. What I now new was that God was the intended Father for every man, whether he had a bad father or good one.
My son's initiation ceremony might have included some of the same intended elements, but the purpose of the evening completely changed. The entire message of that evening and the season it ushered in was to transition the maternal focus of his life from his earthly father to his heavenly one. It changed similarly for all my children...and for me.
This son was now ready and the Father appeared. My mission became preparing all my children for the same.