As I sit down to write this column, we are celebrating my eldest son’s 26th birthday. I suppose that this occasion has me reminiscing and maybe a bit melancholy. As the father of seven, I often find myself lamenting the insanely fast rate at which my kids are growing up. It seems like Judah was born a few months ago, not over a quarter of a century ago.
This day has me thinking about a fear that I wrestled with before my first child was conceived. I struggled with questions that had haunted me for years. At the time, Youth-Reach was much slimmer when it came to staff. Often it was just me, so I was blessed to have married a woman who loved this work as much as I did. To say that I was close to the boys in the program is an understatement. I knew their stories almost as well as my own. I knew their histories, their tragedies, their likes and their dislikes. I cooked their meals and hauled them to school. They cried with me and argued with me. My life was immersed in their lives.
So how could I now go and have my own kids? How could I love my own kids without loving my Youth- Reach boys less? Wouldn’t having a child of my own siphon off some of the love I had for the residents?
This was a very real concern for me, but I was operating off of a very flawed perspective. I assumed that love was like a pie, and for every slice of my pie (love) that I handed out, there would be less pie (love) to go around. My thinking was limited by my experience to-date. In my view, there was only so much love that I could give.
Yet the Lord wanted to teach me an amazing lesson…
I discovered that with each boy who entered the program, and with each child that we had, I did not have to hand out a smaller and smaller slice of pie. To my astonishment, I found that with each additional human soul, THE LORD GAVE ME A WHOLE NEW PIE.
That’s right… in the Lord’s economy, He has done something within us that is beyond measure or explanation: He has given us an inexhaustible ability to love. After Judah was born, I was awash in love for him, but I did not love the boys of Youth-Reach any less. Two years later when Josiah was born (now 23 years old and to be married in June), I again received an entirely new pie. My capacity to love is unlimited; a mirror of the nature and character of God.