Rites of passage are things that are often ignored in our culture, primarily because most of us have never experienced such.
My son, Daniel, turned 18 today. Immediately, I was taken back to the hospital room where my wife, Tracy was undergoing a C-Section. It was late and things seemed to be going well, until the doctor lifted him up. The doctors and nurses were acting like there was nothing wrong, but Daniel is our second child, and this birth (though both by C-section) was different than the first.
Daniel was blue. Really. He looked like a Smurf. He wasn't breathing and . . . well, I'm no doctor, but I clued in quickly that blue was not a healthy color.
The doctor and nurses at Orange Park Medical Center were great. They continued to work, calmly, which allowed my wife and I a semblance of peace. Soon, after literally beating the fluid out of his lungs (these little guys are tougher than they look) he took a breath and began to breathe on his own. Yes, the color began to shift from blue to pink.
It's been quite a journey, these past 18 years. There have been great times and. . .not so great times. I guess that's the story for everyone at some level.
At the moment of Daniel's birth it was clear to Tracy and I that God had His hands on this boy. Of course, that could be said of many people. Sometimes those who are called run from the calling at first. I went to seminary with many who could share that testimony. We still believe that God has a special calling on Daniel's life. Our continued prayer is that he would "have eyes to see and ears to hear" as God continues to draw him to Himself.
I had great plans for a rite of passage for Daniel into adulthood, but as I shared with him, we're not quite at that point, yet. So, in preparation for that day, I presented him a special gift today. This is a gift that most young men would never have on their want list, but I believe Daniel received it as intended and it becomes a reminder of my love for him and the blessing I offer.
The men of Band of Brothers Ministry have made these available and in addition to a personal letter of blessing from me to Daniel, I presented him this pendant and repeated this blessing to him over lunch. To be proud of one's son is not to say that everything he does is affirmed. I am proud of who he is, an image-bearer of God, called out for a greater purpose. I am proud of the man I see he can become. Praying, as all Christ-following fathers do, that he will leave a legacy of life-change and holiness in his wake:
LOVE FOR YOU
My son, I give you this pendant as a symbol and as an everylasting reminder to you of my feelings for you. I hope you will hear these words from the deepest place in your heart and soul, and because these words will forever be true:
I AM PROUD OF YOU! I BELIEVE IN YOU! I LOVE YOU!
For I have seen your true identity - you reflect God uniquely. I see in you a mighty warrior for Christ. I am honored to be your father and your brother in Christ. Please allow me to stand by you and fight for your life and legacy.
MY BLESSING TO YOU
May you love God and others well; May you trust and obey Christ our King by absolute surrender to Him. May you live in purity and holiness, yet cling to and receive the grace of the cross when you fail; May you one day understand the suffering and true costs of being a disciple of Christ - yet choose to follow Him anyway. May you find others brothers in Christ for whome you will stand by and fight for their true identities; and May you believe in and embrace God's good plan for your life and live out the noble and glorious purpose for which you were created.
MY REQUEST OF YOU
My son, there is only one perfect Father, and He will never leave nor forsake you. I, on the other hand, will fail you miserably at times. I pray that I will know when in life to ask for your forgiveness. Above all else, please remember and know this: No matter the choices you make; no matter the life you live; no matter the successes - no matter the failures; and no matter the legacy you leave - I will forever love you, my son, in whom I am well pleased.And behold, a voice from heaven said "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17 ESV
SYMBOLISM OF THE PENDANT
The Battle – The sword-shaped celtic cross is a reminder that you have been born into an unseen battle. Sins such as sexual lust, pride, and greed can be devastating to your mission. Yet you have the power in you- the Spirit – to overcome the world, flesh, and devil. (Mark 8:36; Gal 5:17; Eph. 6:12)
Your Identity- The sword is a reminder that I see in you a warrior for Christ. You have a wonderful and glorious call on your life. I pray that you will one day make the decision to be a follower and brother of Christ – no matter the cost. (Luke 14:25-33)
Band of Brothers - The 12 bright spots in the midst of the dark circle remind me that, just as Christ chose to surround himself with 12 other men, so too should I remember not to try to fight the battle alone. Both Christ and I invite you to be in our Band of Brothers. (Mark 3:35)
God's View of You - and Most Importantly, the cross is a reminder that when God looks at you, that he only sees your sin through the lens and perspective of Christ’s finished work on your behalf. You are a free man living under God’s new covenant. If you choose to accept God’s good and glorious plan for your life, your scars will not be in vain, victory is certain, and the rewards will be eternal. (Rom. 8:28-29)
You can order a pendant and read more about the blessing here - http://www.bandofbrothers.org/sons-blessing