Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
TITLE: Conflicted Feelings
By Stephen Paynter
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"He's beautiful," Beth murmured.
"Yes." Jake was too choked up to say more. This was his son. He was now a parent. A father.
Jake couldn't think that without involuntarily reflecting on his own father. As always, a wash of blue coloured his soul at the memory of that difficult man. He'd been a good man, in his own way. Dutiful. Loyal. A fighter for his family. Jake smiled. He could vividly remember him going into battle with the school authorities to ensure Jake got the best possible education.
Yet his father had been distant. He'd come from a generation where men took no part in child rearing. Not surprisingly Jake had sympathised with his mother in the various domestic squalls he’d witnessed. He'd seen clearly his father's many flaws. However, he'd started to wonder whether there might not have been depths that he'd missed at the time. He could now see more of his mother's deficiencies.
Jake gazed at his son. Paul's face was buried against Beth as he took his first feed. Jake resolved that whatever else happened, he was going to be intimately involved in bringing him up. Once again he was modelling his life in contrast to his father's, something he’d done in so many areas. Jake was determined that Paul was never going to doubt his father's love.
Actually, that wasn't fair. His own father had loved him. It hadn't been a love that was shown in hugs, but in occasional embarrassed utterances and awkward actions - like when his father had tried to help him improve his spellings by writing a dictionary with only the words Jake used in it. Pity, as child, he'd been unable to read his father's handwriting.
Of course, Jake knew he'd disappointed his father. His father held that religion was only for the weak-willed. Jake's big regret was that he hadn't taken more pains to get to know him - to meet him on his own ground, at the pub. Instead, he'd spent too long disapproving of his father’s drinking.
His earliest memory was tramping hand-in-hand with his father through the snow. He'd been three, and they'd been on their way to see his new sister. Jake couldn't remember seeing his sister, but he remembered that walk.
His eyes misting, Jake gently stroked the wisps of hair on Paul's head. He was going to so love this precious new person. Paul would know his father. He was going to share his heart, his passions with him. Of course, his biggest passion was for God. They'd have to do all they could to bring Paul up in the knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
"We must pray for him," Jake declared suddenly.
"Well, we've prayed for him all through this pregnancy, there's no cause to stop now." Beth smiled at her husband.
Jake nodded. If they hadn’t been in the operating theatre, he'd have prayed there and then. Then he shook himself. He'd pray. Committing his son to the Lord was too important. Apart from wanting to express the joy and wonder he felt at this new life, he wanted to renew his intercession for Paul's salvation.
The memory of his father's sudden death came unbidden to mind. A blood vessel had burst in his lungs, and he'd drowned in his own blood. He'd died quickly, although not so quickly as to avoid distress. He'd known the gospel, Jake had seen to that. He'd had time to repent, and Jake didn't know that he hadn't. He couldn't believe he had, though. His father had always particularly despised those who turned to God in times of crisis.
Jake lived with the pain of affirming an orthodox understanding of hell, and the almost certain knowledge of his father's damnation. His only comfort was that God was just. The punishment would not exceed the crime. Whatever God saw as fitting, he would also, on that Day.
Resting his hand on his son’s head, Jake prayed. He offered Paul into God's merciful care, petitioning for his salvation. He prayed in faith, knowing the riches of grace in Christ Jesus. He had no doubts about the generosity of Paul’s Heavenly Father.
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