Callen is making good eye contact now. He is becoming more alert and expressive. His little smiles and coos melt my heart. We even passed the big milestone of sleeping through the night (he’s done it two nights in a row!). The other day, I was holding him and looking into his eyes and I could see myself. I could see my face reflecting in his blue-grey eyes as he stared back at me. He would crack a smile and I would smile back. Our little game went on for a bit, all the while Callen continued to flail his arms and wiggle around in my lap. As we continued looking one another over, I realized that I saw my reflection in his eyes in more ways than one.
One of the ways I organize my prayer life is by using note cards. This simple tool has helped me develop a more consistent and focused prayer life (most days). Shortly after we found out Amanda was pregnant, Callen got his own prayer card (although it only said “Baby Camblin” at the time). The prayers were initially very generic. I prayed for salvation and health. Once we found that Baby Camblin was a boy, his name replaced the generic title and my prayers became more specific, more focused. I added “man after God’s own heart,” “courageous,” and “bold.” I want Callen to be a strong man of God. His name means “warrior” and I picked it precisely because I wanted Callen to fight for King Jesus. I want him to fight the kingdom of darkness and to fight his own sin. I also added “merciful” and “kind” to the list.
The more I prayed over Callen’s card and the more of myself I saw in him as he grew, the more I felt an unsettling feeling arise in my heart. The thought came to me that the attributes I crave for my son would not appear in a vacuum. Rather, I, as his father, have a responsibility to show him the way. My prayers for my son suddenly thrust the spotlight on me.
Will my son be merciful if I am unmerciful? Will my son be courageous if I am a coward? Will my son be a man after God’s own heart if I am a man after my own? The answer to these questions is most likely not. Apples tend to fall under the trees from which they grew. That’s just a general rule of the universe. So even as I pray for Callen, I find my prayers also covering me. As I ask my Heavenly Father to make my son merciful, I am praying that he make me merciful. As I pray for Callen to live courageously and boldly, I am praying that I would not live like a coward. I do this because I realize that the context my son grows up in is important. My holiness will affect my son. And it does not stop there. It will also affect my wife. It affects my small group. It affects my church. The weight of this realization would crush a typical man. And it crushes me. Because I cannot do it. I cannot make myself merciful. I cannot make myself courageous. I cannot make myself a man after God’s own heart. These are things that only God can do. These are things that only heart regenerated by the power of the Spirit can do. I am once again brought to the end of myself and forced (gladly forced) to drink of the eternally deep wells of the Gospel. There, I’m empowered to give to my son what I could not before. I must give him Jesus first, or all my others prayers for him will prove useless.
After thinking through all this, I find myself delighting a little bit more in the Gospel, a little bit more in the sufficiency of Jesus. There I find grace and help in my time of need. And I am encouraged to know that as I seek to train my son, my failures will turn into opportunities to point him to Jesus, who covers all our sin.