Andrew Peterson’s new album came out last Tuesday and the ninth track wrecked me. I had to stop working. Usually, music serves as background noise. But “You’ll Find Your Way” stopped me dead in my tracks. I had heard that fatherhood will turn you into an emotional wreck, but I had yet to experience it. This song brought on my first case of “dad tears.” Thankfully, no one came into my office to witness my mini-meltdown. I think I listened to the song five or six times in a row, all the while staring at my screen with wet eyes, transfixed by the words.
The song is from a father to a son. He is seeking to impart wisdom, to exhort his son that when he gets lost, the way home is found on the ancient paths and old roads. And the song is not just giving some recommendations for when this highly unlikely event happens. The son needs to know, because he will get lost one day. There is no doubt about. The boy will get lost. And this stirred in me something I had never considered. Callen will get lost one day. And this breaks my heart.
The moment we found out that a baby was coming, I began praying for his salvation. Like Job, I have interceded for my son (and I continue to do so). I have asked God to show mercy to Callen and to show himself to Callen. I pray because I know that if God does not intervene, my son has no hope. While I am quite aware of the result I seek, I am ignorant to the means by which it may get answered. And this song has me thinking about the means and I just know I have more times of wet eyes in my future as I watch the answer to my prayer unfold.
I am sure that most people would have a hard time finding Habakkuk in their Bible. It is not one of those books that everyone is familiar with, but it ought to be. The Christian who has not studied Habakkuk is a poor one indeed. For this book is rich. We find the prophet praying in the beginning of the book. He has questions for God. He has a desire to see something happen in the midst of his people. And God answers him. But the answer Habakkuk gets blows him away. Yes, God is going to act. God is going to answer his prayer, but, and it’s a big “but,” the answer is going to come through means Habakkuk did not expect, nor want. To Habakkuk, the answer sounds more like a curse. This is not what he wanted at all. But what we find the prophet doing is continuing to trust. He questions God, in faith. And all the while, the pain only serves to drive him deeper into God. When the short book concludes, we find Habakkuk singing songs of praise to God. Not because the suffering had ended or even been averted, but rather because he knows that God is faithful. The end is not destruction, so he can endure and sing. Oh how rich is this little book!
I can imagine that if God had told my parents all I would experience on my faith journey, it would have overwhelmed them. The pain and suffering would have seemed like unnecessary detours on the path to faith. But looking back, I know we can all see the necessity of those “detours.” Those dark years before the Light broke through seemed irrational. They seemed counter-productive. But God was at work in the darkness. He prepared me as a goldsmith prepares gold; in the furnace. And what emerged surprised everyone, but God. He knew what he was doing. And he alone gets the glory for the results.
The reason that song made me cry “dad tears” is that for the first time in my son’s short life, I knew that suffering lay in his future, and there was not one thing I could do about it. If I had it my way, I would draw a straight line for my son. From here to salvation. But I do not get to draw the line. I do not get to write the story. What hurts my heart is knowing that, more than likely, a crooked path lies before Callen. Deep sorrow will eventually cause tears to stain his pillow. And the fight that lays before me and before every father is this: will we trust God? Will we trust him when the path our children walk gets crooked? Will we remember our prayers? Will we remember God’s track record? Or will we forget? Will we curse God and die? In the heat of the moment, our tendencies will push us towards doubt and unbelief. And we will find ourselves thinking God ignored our prayers. So we must fight to believe! We must fight to pray. And as I pray for the soul of my son, I am praying I will trust God when the path turns in ways I did not expect, nor even want. I am praying that I will remember that this is all too necessary; that this suffering does not end in destruction, but glory. And I am praying that I am faithful to teach my son the ancient paths. For only there will he find light for lost boys. A light that can bring him home. A light that will answer my prayer and make the crooked path worth it all.