Eli, it is hard to believe that you are 7 years old! Happy Birthday!
Ever since I laid my eyes on you, I have been constantly amazed by your resolve. You don’t let anything slow you down! Whether it is reading or building or playing music, you find a way to get it done and get it done well. It seems like you discover something new everyday, and I find myself learning from you everyday.
While I have loved watching you grow and mature in so many ways, I have been so grateful for the growing desire that you have to follow Jesus. Your commitment to reading God’s Word and talk through what you learn at the church house has brought so much excitement and joy to my heart! For all the things I have prayed for you over the years, there is nothing more that I want for you than to follow Jesus with your whole heart!
I have always loved the honesty of your prayers. I have prayed that you would never lose that. I remember when you first started praying, you would pray with your eyes open. Before I could correct you on such a practice, I noticed what you were doing and I have to admit, I have started copying what you did. With eyes wide open, you would say, “Thank you God for Mommy, Daddy, Obie, this chicken, the apple, the tea…” And on and on and on you went! You would get specific for what you prayed and you would pray for just about everything.
Ever since that time, you have one thing that you thank God for repeatedly. Out of all the things you could repeat (because everybody has certain things they almost always say in prayers), you almost always repeat one line verbatim:
“Thank you, God, that we get to spend time together.”
No matter the time or the situation, you always thank God that your family spends time together. I don’t think you will ever know how much that means to me. In a world that seems bent on pulling families apart, you are a constant reminder to draw closer. The hectic pace of family life seems to have so many going in so many directions, yet you teach me the need for simplicity and the power of a close-knit family.
To have such a wonderful and precious and talented son as you is amazing. To have that son show gratitude to God that he gets to spend time with me and the rest of his family is a reward of which I am completely undeserving. You will never know how thankful I am to God for allowing me to have such a wonderful son as you.
I also thank God that we get to spend time together.
One of these days, we will probably discuss what some call the love languages. An author once said that there are primarily five ways that people express their love for others (gifts, words, time, touch, service). I never have to guess which your primary love language is. It means so much to you when someone slows down and shows interest in what you are doing. I love that you are my tag along buddy. I can’t think of a time when you were not eager to follow me to the church house, the shop, the garage, the dump, Lowe’s, or just about anywhere. I treasure those times more than you will ever know.
Everyone tells me to enjoy these times when you want to spend time with me. I do. I love on Sunday mornings having you beside me at soundchecks. I am thankful for a right-hand man equipped with a full tool belt beside me each time I have a home project. I cherish those times when you crawl up into my lap just to be close.
And I also pray that as you grow, that desire will never change. I am sure how we express that to one another will adapt, but I pray that you still desire to tag along when you are a teenager. I pray you desire closeness as you become an adult. I pray when I am old and senile that you still love spending time with me. And I also realize that so much of that has to do with how intentional I am with you versus what I expect you to be for me. I know that I will never ever tire of spending time with you.
On your seventh birthday, I pray that you know that your father loves you very much and he treasures the simple and beautiful fact that we get to spend time together.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.