A few weeks ago 6 godly men joined me in inviting my 3 sons into a process of knighthood. 5 of them flew across the Atlantic, some with spouses, some with families in tow, all for the sake of the most sacred moment of my life thus far as a father. These were men that Becca and I prayerfully invited to join us in being committed to the boys for life. 2 uncles, 3 great friends from Culpeper days, and one great friend from Scotland days. All men that the boys know well, and deeply love and respect. All men that would drop anything to pray for them and be there for them.
The week before the ceremony I intentionally poured into the boys rather a multitude of others. Following some ques from a book I was reading (Raising Modern Day Knights - Robert Lewis) this would take on the form of knighthood. Where courage and bravery are lifted up alongside tenderness, self control and discipline. I do not know what is in store for my boys or how long I will get to walk beside them. This would be a step in the direction of equipping them for whatever was in store.
You see, I lived the life of a knucklehead wandering teen, searching for life in all the wrong places. Just as all things were falling apart and far before I had pulled anything together I was called by the unmistakable grace of Jesus. I've since prayed for, sought out, and walked with teens that have all the wanderings and failings that I had. I know the power of investing one simple life into another life. Of men investing in the next generation of men. I know that truly every boy and man has a deep soul longing for an adventure. A longing to live a life of freedom, a battle to fight, and a beauty to rescue. I also know that without guidance, prayer, and community, these deep longings can hurtle off track like a runaway train destroying what they were intended to protect.
Following my diagnosis, this knights of the round table dream was birthed, not out of panic or desperation, but out of prayer, clarity, and with intention. These men are not men who would replace me, but those who would join me. This time was not a passing of torch, but a lighting of one.
And so we rented a castle for a day. Really, its the only appropriate place for knighthood ceremonies. No round table, but an amazing banquet table. Gospel readers will appreciate this mixed metaphor.
And all of us men, families, spouses - played hide and seek in this elaborate castle, and we feasted, and we built a fire, and we laughed.
As our evening feast came to a close, we began the real reason for gathering. The feasting table became a ceremony table with 7 men who shared a specific scripture, a Godly characteristic, and prayer for each boy. Can you imagine what that would be like for you? No matter how old we are, to have multiple people you love and respect affirming who you are and who you will become - far past your projected versions of yourself, calling out your real identity in Christ? I saw their chests puff out and their smiles widened as they felt the love and importance of the night. They saw a glimpse of what it means to walk with men around them, not alone, but together, facing what is to come. I wish it for you, to feel what we all felt that night.
The words of life will last. The powerful prayers over each boy will last. The memory of the ceremony will last. More importantly the commitment to be involved for LIFE will last. It will be a lifeline when trains jump the tracks or intentions fail, because both will happen. My boys will not escape the heartache of mistakes and brokenness that we all are subject to. What they will have are men who will remind them of God's love and grace. That they are called to a far greater story. And they will have men who will share the Gospel, the expulsive power of a greater affection.
You know what else will last? Ginormous SWORDS! Each boy, upon completion of the ceremony was awarded with a real Scottish claymore sword, taller than each of them, and sharpened for battle. Of course the boys, (and really the older men as well) had to exercise discipline to not sword fight in the castle. These swords will be a visual reminder for my boys of the ceremony - but they also know that they are not yet ready to wield this sword- it represents the MEN they are becoming. The days when they truly become knights - shouldering the responsibilities of life, boldly trusting in Jesus, and protecting all of those entrusted to them.
Next week Becca and I will go to London to see if the Chemo treatments have been effective. We know I have an aggressive, fast moving cancer. We know it has spread to both lungs, my lymph nodes, and started in a tumor in my esophagus. We know the time frame was less than a year without treatment. But we also know that God numbers my days not man or disease. We know that He is able to heal and restore what is broken not just in our hearts but in our bodies. I also know that He gives grace no matter what the outcome is. We are praying big prayers and hoping for amazing news on Thursday. We have wonderful friends that will be watching the boys while we are away and we will get home in time to tuck them in Friday night. Thank you for all the e-mails, video (what a video), cards, notes, and care packages. You have made this fight a lot easier. There is still so much to do and live out, and there are three knights to raise with Becca and a group of wonderful men standing with us.
In His grace alone, Jeff