In Part 1, I wrote about the little guy we call the Monkey, our attempts to bring him into our home, and the loss of my job that eventually stopped the adoption process. Ultimately, I’d lost sight of what I wanted.
Three years ago I preached a sermon I’m thinking of recycling at my current church. I seldom preached (then and now) but was assigned a sermon in a series entitled “What’s Your Story?” which highlighted men and women in the Bible whose lives God used in his Greater Story. I picked David, though I chose an aspect of his story that is seldom mentioned: his desire to build a temple.
His nation at peace and his heart rested, David looked around his palace and all his luxuries and wanted to build something even greater for God, whose current residence was a tent (the Tabernacle). But God wouldn’t allow him to build the temple. At first David wasn’t given a reason—it was just sort of a divine “because-I-said-so,” I guess. David wasn’t allowed to build it, but his son was. Instead of becoming resentful though, David set to work to prepare Solomon for the project. He secured all kinds of costly materials from gold to cedar to granite as well as the craftsmen to design and build it. He did everything but break the ground. He surrendered his dream to his son, whose temple would become world renowned. (No one refers to it as David’s temple.) (See 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 22.)
David is, of course, known as the man after God’s own heart. And he has a special place in mine, perhaps because he was the baby of the family, overshadowed by his older brothers. But where David failed—he was a poor father—I want to succeed.
Living Legacies of the Leader of the Band
As a musician, I’d always dreamed of the big stage and playing for thousands of people. I’d wanted to write songs and hear them on the radio and see them climb the charts. Like most American Idol contestants, I think I had the potential, just not the opportunity.
But on a mountain in Colorado I surrendered that dream and any other that involved making a name for myself. I think it’s easier to “hear” God in the splendor of the Rockies. Or maybe that day God wanted to make himself especially clear on something: I wouldn’t build the temple—my children would, and not one made of gold or cedar. God assured me that any fame I achieved wouldn’t go much further than my own town—maybe that’s why he moved me to a small one, to assure me some notoriety.
My legacy wouldn’t involve music but my role as a father. My success would not be birthed on the music charts but deeply and profoundly and unobtrusively in reversing the curse of divorce and alcoholism and overall brokenness in my own family, and that of the Monkey’s. My grandchildren and their children would look back at the first part of this century and see a man who loved his wife and was steadfastly true in his commitment to her, a man who gave his life for his kids (their parents). That man will have taught them to love and serve others and live adventurously close to God. No, his legacy will not have been notes on a page, but the melodies and harmonies and rhythm and dissonance and resolution that are the lives of his children—and everyone else he will have served in obscurity. (I may have stolen that from Mr. Holland’s Opus.)
I’ve come to love the Monkey even though it may in the end break my heart—not him but the system. I don’t know how it’s all going to work out, but if it doesn’t, I want to look back and know that I gave it everything I had. As Donald Miller relates, I want to get off the couch and do something.
What do I want? I want to play catch together with a brown-skinned little boy (the Monkey) and a fairer-skinned one (Micah), to encourage them and help them figure out what they want, to stand by them when they marry the women of their dreams, and to help them be great dads, husbands, men. I want their big sisters to know their value as girls becoming young women and how they’ll always be Daddy’s girls, that even though they’ll be beautiful on the outside—certainly they will, have you seen their mom?—I want to teach them that real and lasting beauty starts inside—again, like their mom’s. And her, oh, I want their mom to know I will fight for her for the rest of our lives. Since that day she took me back and agreed to marry me, I haven’t once doubted how much I want and need her with me.
I’m stacking wood and securing contractors.
Once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. —Donald Miller