As I waited for sleep to come in my bunk earlier, I thought back on a FaceTime chat I had with the Mrs. last night. She placed him in the middle of the bed and jokingly asked me to watch the boy while she stepped away for a minute. She intentionally set her iPad far away from him so that he couldn’t reach it and hang up on the conversation. I decided that such an arrangement wouldn’t do.
As soon as she left, I watched him in his normal distraction mode, lying on his back and flailing his legs like a turtle, perfectly amused with something so simple. He was probably six to eight feet from the iPad, partially obscured by some form of bedding. I called for him, and watched him roll himself over and poke his head up over the covers and smile at me. He then went back into distraction mode.
I called again, “Hey little one, over here!” He poked his head up again, smiled, and then begin to move. I saw limbs flailing every which direction, and every so often, his smiling face popped back up to track his progress. Eventually, he made his way over to the phone, and likely confused about what to do next, kept shifting around. Over and over, the screen would fill will a blast of red hair. I kept talking in a softer voice, and right before the wifey came back, his smiling face appeared in front of mine.
The wifey chuckled when she walked into the room and saw him looking into the iPad: “How’d you get over there?”
It was a special moment for me. The boy and I don’t really have any alone time together. Why would we? And any communication we could have at his age is hindered by my ignorance in relating to an infant, since I have not been there to learn and grow with him. Sure my boy is very social just like I am, but I would like to think that he knows my voice and responds to my call.
When I return, he might not recognize the scrawy frame attached to these pointy ears and goofy smile, but he will know his daddy.
I know it’s an inexact analogy, but I thought about this experience in relation to Jesus as the Good Shepherd (John 10). His sheep know the sound of His voice. Jesus told us that the recovery of one lost sheep brings rejoicing to the hosts of heaven (Luke 15).
Could it be that my overwhelming love and delight in my boy is a pale reflection of our Father’s love for His children? Such knowledge—that a holy God could look upon a sinner like me and for Christ’s sake draw me to Him—dumfounds me.
Rev. Stephen Roberts is an associate pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Sterling, Va., a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves., and husband to Lindsey Roberts, the editor of the All About Jesus blog. He is currently serving a tour in Afghanistan, having left in May when his son was three weeks old.