My youngest son, Daniel, is reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
It’s Daniel’s first trip down the Mississippi via Mark Twain, and he’s loving the ride.
I kind of feel like it’s because he identifies with crafty, mischief-ridden Tom.
Actually, Daniel reminds me of Huck Finn, especially in the summertime. Shaggy-haired and barefoot, he carries a “fishin’ pole” stick as he roams our yard. If there’s a tree to climb, he’ll climb it, a bug to catch, he’ll catch it, a watermelon seed to spit, he’ll spit it, usually at his brother.
He’s all boy, as is my oldest son, J.R. When J.R. isn’t playing real football, he’s living life as an NFL superstar, vicariously through PlayStation 2. He carries his football around so much that we suspect it’s really an extra appendage.
I love having boys, and raising them is an adventure. People say boys are easier to parent than girls, but sometimes I wonder. How do you raise someone who thinks a rotten pig’s snout is “way cool” and worth keeping? Someone who will sit backwards on a bike and ride it downhill “just because”? Put a dozen eggs in the microwave just to “see what happens”? And—pardon the crassness—someone who thinks flatulence is life’s highest form of comedy?
Gotta love the dudes as they amaze, perplex, delight and have us scratching our heads and asking, “Tell me again, why did you tie a plunger to the dog’s tail?”
God’s desire for our sons is that they grow to be Godly men.
When J.R. was baptized, we discussed some of the greatest men in the Bible. Except for Jesus, they were fully human; with faults, mistakes and trials we can’t fathom, yet they persevered and conquered.
What made them extraordinary, what set them apart, was—faith.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (Psalms 62: 1-2, NIV)
General Douglas MacArthur describes a man of faith in this prayer he wrote for his own son:
Build Me a Son
Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid;
One who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.
Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be;
A son who will know Thee and know that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.
Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge.
Here let him learn to stand up in the storm, here let him learn compassion for those who fail.
Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high;
A son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget to weep;
One who will reach into the future , yet never forget the past.
And after all these are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor so that he may always be serious yet never take himself too seriously.
Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
Then I, his father, will dare to whisper "I have not lived in vain."
In equipping our sons to become such men, consider the instruction David gave Solomon: “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” (1 Kings 2: 2-3, NIV)
Let’s teach our sons what God expects of them, and the kind of men He wants them to become. God’s Word is our guide and “will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55: 11, NIV)
Daniel’s next reading project is Oliver Twist, of which Charles Dickens said, “A boy’s story is the best that is ever told.”
As our boys write their life stories, may God be the heart of every chapter, and lead to the happiest of endings.
I was drawn to the title of your article, especially as I have just submitted one - "Inspiration" in praise of my own son. I don't know how many times he read "Tom Sawyer", but I too used the principles of biblical teaching to raise my own. Your article is well written and gives hope to parents who do not understand what being a good parent is. I like the quote of Gen. MacArthur. Thanks for sharing.