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View from the pew

May 03, 2002|By Jerry Godsey, Special to this newspaper

I sat on the tin bleachers, trying to keep communication going between my head and the lower half of my body. Just as I lost track of my feet and lower extremities, the drums began to play. Within moments, a division of young sailors marched into the drill hall, resplendent in their long black coats and white hats.

Tears obscured my vision as I tried to find my son in the long line of soon-to-be sailors. Isaac was graduating from boot camp in the Navy's "Pass In Review" ceremony. I had driven over 2,000 miles to be overcome by an emotion so strong it rocked me to my core. In one brief moment my son grew from a boy into a man, and all I could do was watch.

It began as a trip to talk to a Navy recruiter named Bob. Bob talked straight to Isaac, which Isaac learned was rare as he talked to other recruits. Bob laid out all the options for Isaac. We felt good about the plan, and my son was on his way.


It took a while. Isaac had to lose about 35 pounds and then keep it off as he waited for his ship date. Through it all, Isaac was excited and ready to go, I was hesitant and fearful. Finally, Isaac left. My little boy, the one I had been with for over 19 years, was gone from my house.

The Navy has taken my little boy and turned him into a sailor. I know he's a sailor because he showed me the 13 buttons it takes to hold on his "Cracker Jack" pants! He may have left a little boy, but the young man I saw last Friday in Chicago is nothing like the kid who left. He isn't any taller. He is lighter and in better shape. He's only been gone two months, but it seems like an eternity. He has become a man.

Obviously, the process has been ongoing. It just took me a while to realize it. I have written many times how proud I am of Isaac and how much he means to me. I never thought of him as a man, though. He was always Isaac, my son.

A funny thing has happened to the way I look at Christopher, my younger son, as a result of this week. It dawned on me this weekend as I watched Critter and Isaac at Wrigley Field that Critter is almost out of my house, too. Suddenly I see Critter as a man in his own right. It's odd how something that affects one person can affect so many others. Isaac moves out of the house, and Critter grows up in his dad's eyes as a result. Sheesh, how did this happen?

It happened because growing is a part of life. As we get older, we are supposed to get more mature and learn more and more things. We are supposed to become "self-feeding." We are supposed to master the basics of life and move on to more difficult tasks. That is a principle that holds true spiritually as well as physically.

If you have a newborn who needs to be fed, diapered and taken constant care of, that is normal. If you have a 12-year-old who needs to be fed, diapered, and taken constant care of, there is a problem. There is a lack of maturity or learning. Something hasn't been developed.

I like what A. W. Tozer said, "Think about people who find themselves in religious ruts. They discover a number of things about themselves. They will find that they are getting older but not getting any holier. Time is their enemy, not their friend. The time they trusted and looked to is betraying them, for they often said to themselves, ‘The passing of time will help me. I know some good old saints, so as I get older I'll get holier and better. Time will help me, purify me and revive me.' They said that the year before last, but they were not helped any last year. Time betrayed them. They were not any better last year than they had been the year before."

Hebrews 6:1 says, "So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on "salvation by self-help" and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we'll stay true to all that. But there's so much more. Let's get on with it!" (The Message).

So my boys are growing up. Maybe I'll give it a try … Jerry

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