Grace of a Father
When I was around 11 years old my brothers and I went on a winter survival camping trip with the Boys Scouts. This trip became a learning experience for me in many ways beyond camping. It was my first big trip away from home. It was a winter survival camp, so we had to learn how to get our lodging ready, build a fire, and cook for ourselves. It was also a big weekend for me to learn about responsibility with an old pocket knife my father allowed me to borrow from his grandfather’s collection. I was nervous and excited about the trip, but I walked around like big stuff with my great-grandfather’s knife. After all, it was this same man from which I received my middle name of Raymond.
When we arrived at the camp, I put the knife in my pocket and my friends and I went to play around. We spent most of the day having fun, while the rest of the troop worked hard on their tents. Soon, the sky grew dark and it was time to head to our beds; that’s when my fun day turned into a bad day. My friends and I hadn’t done anything to set up our tent so we found two trees close to each other (on the side of a hill), tied our rope to the trees, and tossed a tarp over the rope. The final step was to cut twigs for stakes to hold our tarp in place. I reached into my pocket for my knife and the knife was gone. Immediately, I knew I had done wrong. I didn’t fear my dad’s punishment. I feared his disappointment with something precious he had trusted me with. I knew that our relationship would change through this disappointment and he probably would never trust me again. The rest of the weekend my focus was on going home. Instead of telling stories about surviving, I had to tell my dad about how I had let him down. How I had sinned against him.
Immediately upon arriving home I went straight to my room. I wrote a note of apology. I gathered up everything that was important to me like baseball cards, special toys, etc. and placed them into a shoebox. I crept quietly to my parents room and placed the box outside their door. Then, I went back to my room, climbed into my bed and, while waiting for my father, fell asleep.
The next morning, I woke up to my shoebox with nothing missing but my note. On top of the box was a note from my dad. It said, “Matt, thank you for my note. Don’t worry about the pocket knife. I don’t need a knife to remind me of Grandpa Raymond. All I have to do is look at you. I love you. Dad”
That weekend I learned a lot of things about camping; however, this wasn’t the biggest lesson. The most important lesson was the one I learned about the distance caused by sin, and the closeness brought by the love and grace of a father.