Last year in pre-K, Jay was given a test. Some of you may remember this. He was asked his name. To which he quickly exclaimed with confidence “J-A-Y Perkins, IV, Superhero, Ninja Turtle, Power Ranger, Transformer!” His teacher went back and forth with him. What’s your 1st name? “John.” What’s your last name? “Transformer.” He definitely knew who he was.
Every day I get to drop Jay off at school. And most days I get to pick him up from school. I love picking him up and finding out about his day. He always tells me about what they ate (food is very important in my family), who played with and what they played. Almost every day I ask if he learned anything. His response is usually always the same. “Yes, but I can’t remember.”
Yesterday, he looked a little sad when he climbed in my truck. He wasn’t his usual, bouncing-off-the-walls, full of joy and enthusiasm, self. I asked him what was bothering him? He put his head down and said, “I lost my superpowers today.” He wasn’t quite sure how. But he knew he had. “And if I don’t get them back tomorrow, I may never have them again.”
His words really stuck with me. I began to think of them in light of our Lord’s words in the Gospel of Matthew (18:2-4). What is we at one point were aware that we had lost our “superpowers?” But as we got older, we just accepted it and continued through life. What if we didn’t accept the current condition of our lives. What if we could regain our superpowers? What if we didn’t have to live without them?
Those of you who know me, know that my boyhood hero is Superman. There’s a moment in the movie “Superman 2” where Clark Kent returns to the Fortress of Solitude to confess to his father that he has failed. He gave up his superpowers and has to return to his father to regain them.
You and I don’t have to live in our own Fortress of Solitude. We don’t have to live without our “superpowers.” Our Father wants to restore our superpowers. All we have to do is ask him. He is a generous dad, always ready to give, to heal, to restore.
I called Alesha yesterday after she picked Jay up from school. She put Jay on the phone. I asked him if he got his superpowers back. “Yeah dad!”
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, 3 you will not enter the kingdom of heaven…” Matthew 18:3
Have you ever spent a day with a 5 year old? Their minds are little sponges. They want to know about everything. It seems like they are constantly asking questions about how and why?
Yesterday I took Jay to our hunting camp. We left our house early that morning. The camp is about an hour drive. According to the little guy “It’s too long.” The whole way there, it seemed like he was constantly asking questions about everything. In fact, the whole day he never stopped asking questions. But on the way there the question that kept coming up was “are we almost there yet?”
Isn’t that the famous question of kids when driving? It doesn’t matter if you’re going 10 minutes down the road, an hour away or 6 hours for vacation – same question over and over – “when are we going to be there? It’s taking too long!”
We had a great day at the camp. When we got in my truck to head home, he was covered in dirt. From head to toe, there wasn’t a part of his body that didn’t have dirt on it or in it – the sign of a fun day at the camp in the life of a 5 year old boy.
When we got on the interstate (or freeway for all my friends living outside of South Louisiana) to head home, he said to me “Dad, can you leave me alone for a little minute? I need to rest.” And with that, he was fast asleep, confident that his dad could get him home.
As I reflected on our day, his question “Are we there yet? It’s taking too long” is what kept coming to the forefront of my mind. Is that not what we ask our Father when we are on our journey to Him? To be in relationship with him – in communion. To be the men or women He created us to be.
It is called holiness. When we become whole in whom our Father has created us to be. But in order to achieve that, we have to develop our relationship with Him. We have to overcome our own selfishness and sinfulness. I don’t know about you, but too often I get impatient with myself in this journey. I begin telling the Lord that “it’s taking too long.”
In the end, all we need to do is rest in the presence of our Father. He alone can reveal who we are. He alone will give us all that is needed to overcome the sinfulness and selfishness.
My prayer is that I can rest in the presence of my Father. Knowing with confidence He is going to get me home.
As the summer draws to a close and the school year upon us, I have been reflecting over this past summer. It has been a summer where I have tried to be mindful of my family. My job as a Youth Minister requires many nights away from the family. And juggling my primary vocation and my job can be quite a balancing act.
But this summer, with Alesha and the kids out of school and at home, we’ve spent many mornings sleeping in and spending quality time with the kids. I can’t believe how fast they are growing up. It seems like yesterday we brought a new baby (Jay) home from the hospital, and this week he’ll be starting kindergarten.
As I’ve reflected over the time we’ve been blessed with this summer, and I’ve began to prepare for a new year of school and youth ministry, I’ve tried to pinpoint the lessons of this summer. As many of you know, the Lord definitely teaches me about His heart for us through the craziness of my kids.
Last week, the Lord brought to the forefront of my mind something that Jay did every single morning this summer. As Alesha and I would lie in bed, morning after morning, we would here a loud thumb as this 3 foot nothing kid jumped out of bed. That was immediately followed by the pitter patter of little feet running to our bedroom door. And every day, as he ran into our room, he would exclaim with enthusiasm, “What are we doing today!?”
Recently in my journey with the Lord, I have come to the realization that most of my movements, personally and in ministry, have been MY movements. Meaning, rarely did I ever stop to ask the Lord what He wanted to do? Or where He was leading?
As of late, I have been trying to be mindful of asking the Lord to lead me (as a husband, as a father, as a man and as youth minister). If I am going to be completely honest, I am still “leading the Lord” more than I am surrendering to His movements.
But as I continue to reflect on Jay’s morning question, “What are we doing today?” I am beginning to realize if this life is going to make sense. If I am going to be the man (husband, father, youth minister) that the Lord knows I can be, I have to ask the Lord every morning, “What are we doing today?”
Once again, my little man, in all his 5 year old glory, is teaching me how to approach the Lord. So as we begin this new year of school and ministry, please pray for me to ask the Lord “what He has planned.”
Imagine what the world would be like if we allowed the Lord to lead us instead of telling Him what needs to be done. Where is the Lord leading you today? What does He have planned?
“Ask and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7)
I can remember that as a kid I spent most of my time, dodging homework and doing chores, riding my bike around our neighborhood. Either I was going to my friends or pursing those “glory moments” of knee scrapes and broken arms – but that’s for another blog. Like most kids, I loved riding my bike and going on little adventures.
I can remember, somewhat, when my training wheels came off. Dad positioned himself behind my bike, holding the seat. I can even remember him running behind the bike, while holding the seat until he felt I had balanced and then he’d let go. I’m sure that I fell. I’m sure there were tears. I’m sure dad had to convince me to get back on and try again. But eventually I got the hang of it. Although I had many wipeouts, even after I learned how to balance and steer, I could ride a bike.
The reason for the reflection on riding a bike is that a few months ago we took Jay’s training wheels off. At first he thought it was cool. But then he had a hard time getting started. Stopping. Falling. Getting off. You get the idea. He didn’t want anything to do with his bike. He settled in for riding his sister’s PINK bike – it still has training wheels.
Two weeks ago, after some encouragement, he got on his bike and took off. He looked like he’d been riding for years. But last Sunday he wiped out – bad. In fact the skin from his knee got caught between his chain and the chain sprocket. (Side note: I freaked out more than him). After we got his knee out of chain and bandaged it up, he took off again.
This morning in prayer, the Lord brought up that image of Jay; that image of learning to ride a bike.
When we look at our journey with the Lord (prayer, Mass, callings, trust, vocation) it’s like learning to ride a bike. We start off with training wheels, learning to pedal and steer. Eventually, the Lord will “raise those wheels” so we can begin to learn balance. And then eventually, the training wheels come off.
Unfortunately, I think we get used to those training wheels and never learn to fully ride. Too often we keep those wheels on because it’s safe (or we get on the pink bike since it still has training wheels). But the Lord is inviting us to trust Him. To learn from Him. To allow Him to come and pull our knee out of the chains of our sin when we get stuck there. The life that the Lord has set in front us can only be lived without “training wheels.”
Our spiritual journey, like riding a bike, can’t always be safe. Sure, we can have order and routines (and in some ways those things are good). Or we can take those “training wheels” off; we can trust the Lord to pick us up when we fall. To offer healing to our wounded souls. And it is in trusting the Lord with everything, allowing Him to lead us and challenge us, that we experience the true thrill (Joy) of living.
Lord help us to trust that you are a good dad. That you are there to help. There to encourage and challenge. You there to heal us when we fall. Help us to allow you to be our guide, so that we can truly experience the life you’ve created us for – a life without training wheels. Amen.
I was sitting on the swing in the back yard at my in-laws a while back, and I noticed their trees. Now I’ve been going to this house for over 10 years. I’ve looked at these trees countless times, but yesterday I noticed them – something stood out.
In the corner of yard is this cluster of trees – water oaks, live oaks, and a few others. But if you look closely, you notice that most of the branches, from all the trees are stretching towards the west. It’s as if they’re fighting to see who can get out the farthest. In fact, a few of them are leaning – the whole trunk – toward the west.
These trees are literally stretching, fighting the shade of the others, for the Sun. They need the light of the Sun, its warmth and vitamins and life-giving goodness, to live, to grow, to thrive.
As I was sitting on the patio, looking at the trees, it dawned on me, that we are no different from these trees in our need for the Son. Our lives get shaded by all sorts of things. And we are not basking in the light of the Son every day, allowing His rays to penetrate our lives; we begin to get tired and weary.
At times, we separate ourselves from life-giving goodness of the Son and we lose sight of what life is about. Sometimes, we stay in the shadows of life for so long, that we may even forget what life can be like in the radiant light of the Son.
As summer is creeping up on us, and in many ways is here, I pray that we take time to notice that nature is dependent on the rays from the Sun, and our lives are dependent on the rays from the Son. Like the flowers that are blooming and the trees that are stretching out of the shadows, may we be nourished this summer by the light of our Lord, the rays from our Son, who gives us the gift of His spirit to guide us and reveals the love of the Father to us.
We weren’t meant to live in the shadows. We were meant to walk in the light. Happy Summer! May the life-giving light of the Son always bring life to our lives.