I still remember the day Marta walked into my office, plopped herself down, and asked me to pray that she and Ward would be able to have children. I promised to pray, and did, regularly. In time, they had three of the brightest, sweetest children you’ve ever seen. They are young adults now and barely know me, but I take special joy in having prayed them into the world.
Not long ago, I began to pray that God would send Mack a wife. I said, “Lord, Mack is a truly fine person. He has kept himself faithful to you all these years. You must have a godly woman out there somewhere who would be right for him.” He did. I performed Mack and Kathleen’s wedding last winter.
My son Neil was on an outing with his three children. The day before, he had suggested they pray for good weather. On their way to the park, he asked 10-year-old Grant if he had prayed for this beautiful day. “No,” he said. “I forgot.” He asked 7-year-old Abby. “I forgot, too,” she said. “Oh, good,” said her twin Erin from the back seat. “Then it was my miracle.”
I’m still hoping to see a loon. If in fact they really exist.
A generation ago, the Henry Fonda/Katharine Hepburn move “On Golden Pond” hooked America on the loon. The old couple sits on their porch in late evenings enjoying the sounds of the loons on the lake while the setting sun does fascinating things on the water, and a hundred thousand people–me included–were ready to move to New Hampshire. Until that movie, I had no idea how fascinating or desirable these birds were. And since loons are yankees (i.e., based in northern climes) and I’m a southerner (Alabama originally, New Orleans at present), I did not expect to actually see one.
Nearly twenty years ago, some of my siblings started worrying about our larger family. “The old folks are leaving,” they said, “and pretty soon, there will be no one left except our generation-the ‘cousins.'” Our mother came from a family of nine brothers and sisters, while our dad had eleven, so we were blessed with plenty of fun cousins and doting uncles and aunts. It was a great situation-all of us kids growing up together, visiting one another in the summers, and getting into trouble together. Now, with our parent’s generation aging, we all decided we needed to see each other on a regular basis.
Family reunion. The very term conjures up all kinds of crazy images-weird uncles, rambunctious kids, silly cousins. We sent out letters to everyone and for a couple of years tried holding reunions at various city parks and lake homes. Nothing really ‘took’, however, until we got smart and decided to hold the get-together at the only logical site-the old family homeplace.
What is there about the David and Goliath story that fascinates children? Maybe it’s the giant. Start a story with “Once upon a time, there was a giant” and you have their total attention. Kids are well-acquainted with giants, living as they do in a world populated by them. Everyone around them is a veritable Shaquille O’Neal.
Goliath stood over 9 feet tall, his body armor as heavy as a man. The day he appeared in the valley of Elah and dared the Israelis to send their best warrior for a winner-take-all showdown, Goliath struck terror in the hearts of the Jews. No one was anxious to commit suicide, try as he may to goad them into action.
Twice a day for weeks the armies of the Philistines and Israelis lined up across their respective hillsides with the great valley stretching before them. Then, Goliath would stride down the incline toward the battle line, every step bumping the seismograph. A frantic shield-bearer ran in front of him, like a high school kid toting a door to protect Goliath. Like someone is going to harm this giant.
Maybe the children are fascinated by the adults in the story. The soldiers do some truly weird things. Even though they have no intention of fighting anyone, they dutifully line up for battle every morning and every evening. Then the big giant appears, bellowing threats and belching curses, and the soldiers panic all over again and scurry under the nearest shrubbery. You would think that sooner or later, they would figure this thing out.