“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
It’s so hard to believe that you’re 18 years old now and graduating high school. The thing that astounds me most is how quickly the time has gone by and how much you have grown. I know you get tired of hearing me tell you this, but I used to bathe you in the kitchen sink. It’s boring for me to tell you that over and over, but it’s just so astounding to me. Somewhere I have a photograph of you and me when I’d just pulled you out of the sink after bathing you. We are looking at each other, and I’m holding you with one hand, for heaven’s sake! Now that you are six-foot-one, it would be hard for me to wash even one of your feet in the sink!
Your mom was crying the other night. She has been doing that a lot lately, any time something reminds her that you’re growing up. Something she said to me was, “I wish we had spent more time with the boys.”
I said to her, “Wait a minute. We have spent a lot of time with the boys. In fact, we have spent as much time with the boys as we possibly could. If we had spent any more time with the boys, they would grow up to be weird.”
Spencer, you and I think alike on some things, and I think you will tell me I’m right about that. We have spent time with you and Seth, but we have never been over-the-top parents. You know exactly the parents I’m talking about—the ones who make a video of the first time their kids sit on the pottie chair and then bronze the poo and send it to the Smithsonian. We weren’t that crazy—I don’t think—because we didn’t want to mess you up. But we spent a lot of time with you. I hope you believe that, and I hope that’s the way you remember your childhood.
Sometimes I feel like crying, too, because you’re so grown up, but I try not to. I’m trying to look at this thing philosophically. After all, you really want to grow up. You don’t want to be 17 and in high school forever. So, I’ve got to let you grow up because that is what you want. Also, the fact that you are no longer a child doesn’t mean that you are gone. It only means you’re moving on to other happy parts of your life. I hope the Lord lets me live to watch you grow older because that will be so much fun. But whatever happens, we will always be together in the end because we have the same precious faith in the Lord Jesus.
Thanks for being such a neat kid. You are the package deal—a great student, a great athlete, a great musician, a great Christian boy, and a great son. I’m so glad God sent you to be my son. I love your honesty and the way you think things out so carefully. I love to see you eat an entire “All-Star Breakfast” (which is the whole left side of the menu) at Waffle House and still look like a track-runner. I love your caring ways, the way you pick up heavy things so I don’t hurt myself, your lightning-fast wit, and your sense of humor. You always lift my spirits by making me laugh. You are a great comfort to me.
Spencer, you know I have never pressured you to become a preacher. And I really don’t care if you never become famous or “important”. I hope you will always have enough money to pay your bills, but I really don’t care if you never become rich. There is just one thing I want from you. I want you to always be a Christian. Find the tasks that God wants you do in this life, and do them with all your might. Because, if you will just do that one thing, things will work out for you in this life and in the life that is to come.
I hope you will forgive me for my many failings as a father. You were my first child, and I had to practice on somebody. You drew the short straw and got that honor. Sorry about that. I hope you believe me when I tell you that, with God as my witness, I really tried my best. I believe you understand that now—and you’ll understand it better in a few years.
Remember your Mama and me, and your little brother, Seth. Remember all the fun you had growing up in the little parsonage and the country church. Remember all the people who have loved you and the lessons they’ve taught you. Make a big splash in the world. You only have one life, so remember the Lord Jesus, and do as much good with your life as you can.
There is so much more that I could write—but I don’t have words. Hope this will suffice. I love you always, and I am always proud of you.
With Prayers and Blessings,
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” *Sing that title to the tune of “Secret Agent Man” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 18) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church” (where the Preacher and his wife want to remind you to spend time with your babies because they’ll be grown before you know it). You should write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.