It would no doubt embarrass my son Seth if I made this letter about him. Being embarrassed—often—is one of the risks you run when you’re my kid. Inexplicably, Seth doesn’t like it. So in honor of his 16th birthday, I have decided to leave him out of this thing altogether.
I won’t mention, for example, how he is one of the most driven people I know, self-motivated in a way that laggards like me only dream of. I’ll leave out his exemplary academic record and his over-the-top sense of responsibility. I won’t tell you about how he has worked since he was much younger and shorter to build his faith and testimony through daily prayer and scripture study. I’m not going to bring those things up at all.
And even though I’m sorely tempted, I won’t sneak in the fact that last week he learned that he has been chosen by the National Eagle Scout Association as the Orange County Council’s winner of the 2014 Adams Award, given in recognition of his outstanding Eagle Scout leadership service project (which, you may recall, involved the construction of a new enclosure for the bald eagle at the Santa Ana Zoo). Dana and I are, of course, too proud for words—which is why I have chosen not to even try tell you about it.
What I will tell you about is this: As you watch a boy grow from toddler to teen, morphing and stretching and contorting from a little and cute boy body into a long and skinny adult body, you can’t help but marvel. I’ve spent just enough time around just enough boys to state with some degree of certainty that God does have a hand in the development of those who invite Him in. We read frequently in the paper about those who do no such thing, but in scripture we read about remarkable young men who have accomplished remarkable things with God’s assistance, in stories that might not be at all believable had I not had the privilege of witnessing the whole boy-to-man transformation right before my eyes.
I think, for example, of David, who sauntered onto the battlefield to take on Goliath, a man so large and intimidating that no full-grown man in the Israelite army was brave enough to answer his challenge. As the boy David approached, armed with nothing but a sling and five smooth stones. Goliath was dumbfounded, then amused, and the following conversation took place:
And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And the Philistine said unto David, “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?. . . Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.”
Then said David to the Philistine, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” (1 Samuel 17:42–45)
You may recall that things didn’t work out so well for Goliath following that little exchange. And who’s surprised? He was facing a young man who had so lived that, when he needed to, he could place his faith and trust in God. And as a consequence, the Philistine was completely outnumbered.
At this point I might be inclined to draw a parallel between David and Seth, who is similarly prepared to battle whatever giants may stand in his way. But since it’s his birthday, that seems somehow inappropriate. Besides, I decided to leave him out of this thing altogether.