“You’re very nice . . .”

“You’re very nice, BaPa.”

Our four year old grandson, Aron, said this to me the other morning, and it cut me like a knife.  

“Would to God I was what you think I am, you beautiful boy,” I thought to myself, even as I received with a grace and my “Thank you, Aron,” this unexpected compliment that I treasured and knew I’d always remember.

What had I done?  

I’d just spent a little bit of time the previous night fixing the barrel on the new toy gun that Aron had proudly showed off only that morning when he came over to our house and then soon broke.  

When I came home at lunch, there was the broken gun on the desk in my messy office.  Was he hiding it or maybe silently hoping that I could fix it by placing it there?  

I asked Aron what happened, and he said “it was an accident.”  

I told him that I’d try to fix it but that he’d need to tell his Mommy and Daddy, and Aron seemed to wilt somewhat while looking up at me, and I could tell that this was something he dreaded doing.  

But Karen said that when our daughter came by to pick him up later that afternoon, the first thing Aron told his Mommy was about the broken gun.  

However, Karen also told me that she still sensed that Aron was a little afraid to have to also tell his Daddy about the gun when he got home.  But she was sure that he would do so.

Now I’m not at all handy, you know.  And the gun was plastic with moving parts and lights that made real cool gunfire sounds.  When I was finished with it, less parts moved and only some of the lights still worked, but the barrel was reattached solidly with Elmers’ Glue All and duct tape, my two main tools.  

And the gun did look kind of cool like the duct tape had been placed there by a real combat veteran for extra grip in battle or something, and it still made all the neat sounds, much to my wife’s chagrin.  

You see, Karen watches Aron during the day while his Mommy and Daddy work, and what Aron and I both think are really cool gunfire and other sounds of war probably can get a little tiresome when heard repeatedly over the course of a morning.  

That’s why Karen has instituted “Peace Days” when guns can’t be played with on Tuesdays and Thursdays!

Anyway, when Aron came over the next morning, he brought the now-repaired gun he’d found waiting for him in the living room in with him to my bedroom wherein I was finishing tying my tie for work, and Aron said, “BaPa, you fixed it!”  

I knelt down on one knee to give my grandson a big hug and told him, “You’re welcome.”  Slightly confused it seemed by the order of conversation, Aron told me, “Thank you!”  Again, I said, “You’re welcome,” as Aron turned to leave the room to go find MeMa to show her the fixed gun.  

That’s when he took a couple steps out the door and around the corner but then backed up a couple steps to put his face in the doorway, looking up at me with so much gratitude, and said, “You’re very nice, BaPa!”

No I’m not really, but there is time enough for Aron to learn just how selfish and vain and mean I really am, how I can fly off the handle sometimes and lash out at the people I love most in the world or neglect to do things for others that I know they need someone to do for them or disobey in every conceivable way the One who loves me most and who once said, “If you love Me, you will obey Me” . . .

or who knows, maybe I’ll someday grow into the man our grandson thinks that I am right now . . .

and maybe he’ll never have to think of me in any other way.

“May it be so, Lord Jesus!  May it be so.”

I wrote and sent this little story out to some family and friends almost a decade ago, and one friend who is now a high ranking officer in the United States Marines wrote back.

Good Morning Mark,
Not sure to how many you sent this e-mail out, but it was written for me.  No english speaking churches around, this was all the sermon I needed today.  I’ll take command at the end of June which means two things in the Marine Corps 1) I directly influence a lot of careers 2) my future potential for additional responsibility and influence is expotentially increased.   Already, my jokes are somehow more funny.  When enough people tell you congrats and that you deserve it, after a while, you start to believe it.  You want to believe it, and discount what God and the angels know of my true character.  Pretense was David’s downfall – I think its the silent character killer for those with successful careers in a hierarchical system.  It paves the way for giving into pride, selfishness, lust, hypocrisy, and a sense of entitlement.  I want to laminate your last paragraph and put it in my wallet because it is not you who wrote those words to me…so thank you in being obedient in writing them.
This past and coming week I’m in Norway or Norge as they spell it here. Beautiful beyond description. Not many come here as you’ll pay $3.50 for a Coke and $19 for a Whopper meal at BK, but….it’s an amazing landscape and the people are very cool once you break the ice (yes, pun intended). They don’t say “hi” when you pass on the street and look at you oddly when you do.  Like the rest of the world, their hearts have collectively grown cold toward God – last week I went to the only church in town – the audience was sparse and old and a generation missing.
Time for a cold run – its cold but too beautiful to stay inside!  
Blessings to you, 
PS Attached pic is for Aron – pls show him how duct tape is truly a sign of authentic weaponry =) 


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