After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: "You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life." – Luke 3:22 (The Message)
I am firmly convinced that no matter your age, social status, or any other qualifier, there’s something inside that sometimes…just wants to hear the voice of your parent. Specifically, I’m thinking about fathers. Granted, my state of mind may have something to do with this past weekend and it being a holiday and all that. Cut me a little slack.
Kids (and adults, and believe or not, even teenagers at times) seek out the voice of approval, of support, of encouragement from their dad. Even in this broken culture we have of absent fathers – those who may have been a part of your life but left of their own free will, those who come and go with little to no interaction, or even those who were never a part of your life from the get-go – there’s a drive, a need, a desire to be, if nothing else, acknowledged. Recognized. Although our voices may change over the years, and although we may become better versed in our language skills, there is something deeply-seeded inside each and every one of us that cries out, in its own unique voice, “Daddy, pay attention to me.”
I’ve come to realize that after only three months how much Kai likes to see me smile, and how much he responds to the sound of my voice. Granted, at his age, I could read the ingredients and nutritional facts side of a box of Cookie Crisp to him and he’d think it’s awesome. But more than anything, it’s the recognition of him by me that makes him smile.
In the passage quoted above from the book of Luke, I think that there’s more going on than we typically think of when we read or hear this passage. I’ve come to think that maybe – just maybe – the voice of God speaking in this passage was not as stoic or booming as it is commonly portrayed in movies or books on tape. Christ was fully divine from the time of His birth, but He was also fully human. It’s because of this balanced duality to His nature that He might have been able to have a balanced duality of understanding: the divine in Him perceived the beauty and symbolism in this baptismal marking of the start of His ministry and the mission He was about to undertake, while the human nature in Him felt His heart swell at the smile and sound of the voice of His father. Of his approval. Of His acknowledgement of Him. And I have a distinct notion that at that moment, Jesus wasn’t as quite as stoic/serene as He is often portrayed in the media, as a smile undoubtedly spread across His face when He felt the love of His father.
This past Sunday was my first father’s day as a dad. This was also my first father’s day without my own dad. This bittersweet duality played on my emotions most of the day, and while for the first time in a long time I found myself NOT crying at the memories, I did think about what it would be like to hear the voice of my dad telling me about Kai. About what he might say about my parenting skills. About what he might say to his friends about my parenting skills. (Yes, in reality, I know he’d talk WAY more about his grandkid than about my skills. Allow me a little artistic license.)
At the end of the day, what I have to trust in – to have faith in – is that I knew the love of my dad. And I know the love of my Father. And it’s this duality of love, this duality of understanding, that I get to pass down to my own son.
All we have to do is get past the diaper stage first.