18 05 2010

The family was in downtown Atlanta on Saturday for the kite festival and to hang out with my sister Angie, our friends Amanda and James, and our new friend Kristin. We all had lunch at CNN Center where Atlanta Braves second baseman Martin (Mar-teen) Prado was signing autographs. There was a little time to kill so Caedmon and Jackson each got an autograph.

Jackson walked up to me with his paper and asked, “Dad, what does this say?” I told him it said Martin Prado. He disagreed, “No it doesn’t. It says blah.” I laughed and he continued, “It doesn’t say anything.” I wanted to correct him but as I looked at the mark I was compelled to agree with him.

We even asked a security guard what it said and his honest reply was, “I have no idea, what is it?”

People were in line for hours to get “blah” scribbled onto jerseys, hats, posters, etc. Am I the only one who doesn’t get it?

Anyhow, my philosopher sister Angie declared a new edict that all autographs (and signatures for all you doctors out there) need to be legible. I concur, enough with the written gibberish!

Were I to come upon this alleged autograph in a store or on the street I wouldn’t recognize it and I certainly wouldn’t make any effort to obtain it. It is unrecognizable.

This got my thinking about chlorophyll, hummingbirds, and bombardier beetles. Here’s what I mean…

What does the following say?

If you said John Hancock, you would have correctly identified that collection of 11 letters and 1 space. The signature was written clearly enough for an honest person to acknowledge that it says John Hancock.

If we were to go back and look at Prado’s autograph and ask what it says we would get any number of answers. Although, most people would probably just say it is scribbles.

Did you know that God has given us His autograph? Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  Also in the 1st chapter of the letter written to the church in Rome we read, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

God’s autograph is all around us. From the incredibly specific and complex design of chlorophyll to the design of the human eye. It is seen in the miracle of rain (you really ought to read the preceeding link when you finish this, so cool) and the beauty of a coral reef. He has provided the most profound and awe-inspiring sign our world has ever known and we can see it every day. It is more incredible than cured cancer, more fantastic than a parted sea, and more stunning than blind man seeing. Our universe is screaming out to us saying, “You think I’m awesome, you should see who made me!”

Sure, science can “explain” many things but that’s just it. All science is doing is reading the signature. For all the “explaining” and copying that science does it cannot create. All it can do is mimic. What we have begun to do is worship the handwriting experts and forget the miracle in the autograph.

Every time the miracle of your olfactory system interprets the glory of fresh-baked bread and that smell actually produces within you a feeling of enjoyment… God has given you His autograph.

Every time the miracle of your eyesight interprets the vibrant colors of autumn leaves and the depth of the mountains they are found on and you are struck with a sense of awe… God has given you His autograph.

Every time a tree falls in the woods and you are there to hear it and your ears interpret it’s sound… God has given you His autograph.

Our Creator didn’t give us an autograph like Martin Prado, His is much closer to John Hancock’s. The question we must ask ourselves is, “Can I read it?” The next question is more important than the first, “What does it say?”

I’ll give you a hint… watch


The Light Under The Door

11 05 2010

Early in the morning, when I am meeting with God by reading His word and praying, I am often interrupted by a knocking at my office door. It isn’t an insistent knock, but a soft “I’m out here in case you are wondering” knock. The sun is just coming up so I will open the blinds and turn off the lights in the room. The little person knocking in my door can be spared the rude brightness of manufactured light in exchange for the welcoming illumination provided personally by God.

I know who’s out there. It’s always the same little boy. When the other boys get up they head straight through the kitchen and towards our bedroom to jump in bed with Jeni. But not this boy; this boy has a different perspective. When he comes out of his room he sees the light underneath my office door so he scoots right over to it and begins knocking. I can almost see his light coming underneath my office door too. “Good morning Caedmon!”

I will pick him up and he will lay on the bed next to my desk and look out the window as the day dawns before him. I will go back to my first appointment of the day, with God. This morning while I was praying for Caedmon I opened my eyes and looked at him. Instantly I stopped what I was saying and reflected on the blessing  laying just a few feet from me.

I often struggle with how to pray for him. As many of you know he has cerebral palsy which affects the development of his motor skills. Do I pray for God to let him be “normal?” HOW DARE I DO THAT!! I don’t want him to be normal. In fact, I’d rather be more like him than be more normal.

My prayers this morning “for him” instantly became prayers “for me.” As I looked at him laying on his tummy with his knees pulled up by his ribs just looking out the window content and calm, I envied him.

I thought of the night before when he had one of his laughing moments that took his breath away. “God, please let me laugh like Caedmon.”

I thought of how passionately he loves his “best buddies.” “God, please let me love as deeply as Caedmon.”

I thought of how he loves food, all food and starts saying “mmmmm”(yum) before it even gets in his mouth. “God, please let me savor life and express gratitude like Caedmon.”

I thought of all the people he has inspired and touched. “God please grant me a positive influence like Caedmon.”

Then I thought again of his body. I though about that borderline hateful word, “normal.”

Oh that I could be more like God and look at people’s hearts and not their outward appearance. Would I really want a son who had a sense of entitlement? That took his family for granted? That complained about the abundance in his life? That was disrespectful? But, walked “normal.”

As a dad who is ignorant and a christian who is aware that, the more I learn the less I know; I still wrestle. I look at Lebron James, Michael Phelps, and Lionel Messi and covet their athleticism and accomplishments on behalf of my boys. I know how much I love my Seminoles, Atlanta teams, and US Soccer and imagine how awesome it would be to have my boys competing on one of them.

At the same time, I see the lives of many of those guys. Lives full of broken relationships and despair. Boys with the responsibilities of men, acting like… boys. I see these elite athletes with their better than “normal” abilities and all too normal lives.*

What does that say about me? Is that what I want for my kids? “God forbid.”

I have lost my way a little here. This isn’t a blog about what’s wrong in sports, or the dangers of fame and fortune. This is a blog about me recognizing that I wish I were more like my son than I wish he were more like me. About me realizing that “normal” is ugly and God is more creative than that. I can’t explain why Toby crawls better than Caedmon. But even more bewildering (and unsettling), is why Caedmon loves people better than I do.

“God, please let me be more like Caedmon… please.”

*(authors disclaimer. The paragraph about athletes bad choices was not speaking directly about James, Phelps, or Messi, but a generalization of the world of professional athletics. Those guys may be pillars of integrity, I don’t know them.)

** (authors disclaimer #2. I believe with every bit of my understanding of God that He absolutely can restore my son’s body to function… I can’t even write this. Function “normally?” What even is that? Function “like everyone elses?” What would that look like? It’s not the same even in my own family. Function “as God intended?” Who’s to say that Caedmon isn’t functioning exactly as God intended? I can’t. So, what do I believe? I believe in a perfect creator who makes no mistakes. I believe in a God who has a plan for Paul, David, Peter, Rahab, and Solomon all of whom were morally handicapped and He also has a plan for those with physical handicaps. He heals some, he doesn’t heal others but it is all for His Glory. So, I pray. I pray that Caedmon could run and jump. That he could play the sports he so loves. I pray that he will be able to go to the bathroom without our help. At the same time, I pray that he won’t be “normal.”)