Christian came crying to me tonight after all of his brothers were asleep.
“I miss Dad.”
I held him close and cuddled with him on the couch, waiting in silence for the prompting from the Holy Spirit to help me find the right words that will heal. When it came, the right words seemed so obvious.
“It’s hard growing up without a dad isn’t it, Christian.” That’s when the tears burst out. In between the sobs he was spitting out words about Dad and come here and died. I couldn’t put it together, but it seemed very important to him. I calmed him down with caresses and then encouraged Christian to spell out what was bothering him.
“He was trying to tell me something. He said, ‘Christian, come here’. But he died before he got to tell me. I never found out what he wanted to tell me.”
“You mean in the pool when he was by the wall, he wanted to tell you something?” I asked.
“Yes, he called my name,” Christian cried, “now I’ll never know.”
The pain of loss felt so deep to me. So deep. I tried to imagine how horrible it must feel for this tiny child to know that he missed out on his Dad’s final words. But I privately felt relief that Christian didn’t go to him. Imagine the terror Christian might have felt to see his Dad slip under the water with a heart attack.
Again I waited. Waited for the Lord's prompting. Tell me the right words, Lord. Guide me- this is too big for me to tackle, but nothing's too big for You.
When again I felt His guidance, the words slipped easily off my tongue without a thought of forming them. They were His words, not mine.
“Christian, what do you think Dad wanted to tell you?”
“I think he wanted to show me how to do the four man lift. I never got to do that one and all the other brothers did. I think he wanted to finally do it with me.”
I thought about how young Christian was in those final years of Tom’s life when the older brothers were big enough to enjoy rough play in the water- being tossed in the air and whipped around in the water. Christian was only five during that time – not a strong enough swimmer for that.
“I wish you could have tried those games with Dad in the water.”
Christian got quiet and then started to cry again. This time with a thought that must have been surfacing for a while.
“No one listens to me,” he quietly said. “When I tell them it’s time for dinner, no one looks up or stops. When the older kids say it’s time for dinner they all go right away.”
I nodded knowingly. “I know all about that, Christian. Same thing happened to me when I was growing up. Remember how many were in my family?”
“Eight,” he said.
“Know which one I was?”
“I know exactly how you feel. Christian. It’s like that in every family. It’s easier to obey the older ones. It’s only because you’re the youngest. And that will change when you get older. My family listens to me a lot now.”
Christian looked like he needed more convincing.
“Christian it’s like this. When you’re the oldest, all you have to do is say do this, and the younger ones do it. How hard is that? But the youngest, like you and I, have to work at it. We have to negotiate, earn respect, and figure out how to get people to cooperate without bullying. That’s why sometimes the youngest ends up being a good leader.”
Tell him about David, I felt in my heart.
“You remember David in the Bible? He ended up being the King of Israel and he was the youngest of lots and lots of brothers.” Christian didn’t seem to know this fact.
“It happened like this. He was such a tiny little kid, that when a prophet of God came to tell his father, Jesse, that God would show the prophet which of Jesse's son was to be king, Jesse showed every other brother to the prophet except for David.
“The prophet shook his head and said, ‘no, there must be another son because I’m sure God told me the next king lives right here in this home.
“Jesse finally admitted there was a tiny runt of a kid named David that was out in the field that day but surely, God wouldn’t pick the tiniest.
“’Bring him here,’ Jesse said, and when shown the tiny boy the prophet felt moved by God to say, ‘yes, this will be the king.”
Christian’s face brightened, “and then he killed Goliath!”
“That’s the guy,” I answered, “you see, sometimes it’s being the youngest that teaches you how to be a leader.
Now tell him about Joseph, I felt prompted.
“And know who else was a great leader? Joseph. Remember, he was the youngest of 11 when the other brothers threw him in a well. But he became a top leader in Egypt. The youngest in a big family learns how to deal with people because they have to.”
I felt like that was enough so I just stayed quiet.
Christian did to.
Finally, another prompting.
“Christian, you are going to be great one day. God has a special purpose for you. Who knows, president? I wonder if Dad knew that and wanted to tell you that. Who knows, maybe that’s why he called you over.”
“You know, Christian, when Dad called your name, he was at the side of the pool already. He knew something was wrong. He had stopped throwing the football with Joe and he wasn’t feeling well. Maybe he knew his body was done. Maybe he felt how incredibly special you are and maybe God told him that there was special greatness in you. Maybe he was so excited that he wanted to tell you. Isn’t it amazing that when Dad was feeling sick and resting by the side of the pool while having a heart attack he was thinking of you? He wasn’t thinking at all about himself. No, he loved you so much that calling you’re name was what he was thinking about. Maybe he just wanted to tell you, ‘Christian, you’re special.’ Christian do you think you’re special’?”
Christian was decidedly more upbeat now and he nodded. He seemed to choose, at that point, that he was destined for greatness.
And I think he is.