Snap Shot

Left to right: Ryan McKenna, 6 months; Sean McKenna, 3 years old.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

3 John 1:4

I plopped a roll of black and white film in my 35mm camera and spent the morning capturing Sean and Ryan as they playfully posed for me. Sean’s curly mop bounced as he jumped into the crib with his baby brother. 

            “Say cheese!” 

            “Cheese!” they chimed.  

Sean’s chunky legs bent while he held the railing and leaned toward Ryan. Ryan’s plump cheeks glistened under his big eyes as he giggled.

This photograph ushers me back to a time of simple pleasures. Ironically, it was also a difficult period in my life. Yet, watching those sparkly eyes and running my hands through Sean’s thick curls made me so happy. Even though I miss their baby-belly-laughs and reading to them in the big, green chair, the memories still fill me with joy.

Because of this, I’m glad I captured these moments. They remind me that the time we had together meant something. I invested in them with stillness, fun, and love, even when life was difficult. In fact, it’s hard to reminisce without feeling a sense of loss. (I really do miss those little boys!) However, they were never mine to keep–only to enjoy for a time. 

Sadly, I fear this snap shot captures the ideal–a moment when I was fully engaged in every scene. Even so, I am thankful to have had the privilege of walking with God as He raised my children. Yes, at times I got in the way, but they were always His kids. Fortunately, when I failed my boys, I learned that God never fails. When I was unloving, I recalled God is love. Isn’t this comforting?

 God’s Word says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His faithfulness to a thousand generations for those who love Him and keep His commandments…” (Deuteronomy 7:9 NASB). Paul also reminds us that “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”(1 COR 1:9). “Therefore, there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus.”(Romans 8:1 NASB).

Wow! No condemnation for any of the mistakes. No condemnation for all the regrets. No condemnation because I am forgiven.  Moreover, God will redeem and restore. He will fill in all the gaps with His love like calk in the cracks of a settled house. Yes, I hurt my kids. No, I wasn’t always emotionally available. Yes, they need Jesus, just like I did, to complete them and love them in a way that makes them whole. 

Still, when I see them together as adult-brothers, this picture flashes in my mind. The day I took this snapshot I was broken inside and had very little to offer emotionally. Yet God allowed me to see His faithfulness in the innocence and unconditional love of my children. At that moment the weight of God’s love pressed on my heart as heavy as their little heads when they slept against my chest. God was faithful then and He is faithful now. 

Today, instead of giggles and kisses, I encourage them with a hug, a card, and a call. But, more importantly, I want to reassure them with faith. I want to show them God’s love and grace and point them to Jesus who has loved me and sustained me for over twenty-five years. 

In other words, what brings me joy today is knowing that Jesus has revealed Himself to them. God has loved them from birth and pursued them. When they are feeling alone, He is with them. When they fall short, He forgives them. When they seek refuge, He covers them. When I and their father are gone, God will still be faithful. And, when they wander away, God will pursue them still. 

It’s hard to imagine a love so big it trumps that of a parent. Even more so, God loves perfectly! He will never abandon them emotionally or spiritually like I did. In contrast, like the loving father in the story of the Prodigal Son, God is waiting with open arms for His kids to return. Now that’s a snapshot for the ages!

“So he set out and came to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”

Luke 15:20 NASB

4 responses to “Snap Shot”

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