I want to tell you a story about a friend of mine. His name is Bob.
Bob and I have known each other for decades. Over the years, I’ve seen him get married and he’s seen Jean and me welcome our boys into the world. We’ve laughed and prayed together and shared many ups and downs of life. He is one of those good friends where no matter how much time has passed between conversations, the talk always comes easy. He is a good man who dearly loves his wife and kids.
When the economy hit the skids several years ago, Bob found it difficult to get steady work. The financial and personal pressures mounted. Committed to living within their means, the family sold their house and moved into a small apartment with 3 kids. It wasn’t ideal or great, but they were together and that was good enough.
Bob recently landed a position with a good company. But there was a hitch: the organization was headquartered 12 hours away. The family would have to relocate, which was fine, but these things cost money and take time to pull together. Needing the income before they could pack up, my friend decided to go out ahead of the family. He would work during the week, get the lay of the land on weekends and plan for the family’s arrival.
About three weeks ago, Bob was in the middle of an important meeting and his cell phone rang. It was his wife’s number, but he couldn’t excuse himself quickly enough to answer it. By the time he did, there was a voice mail.
But the message wasn’t from his wife, it was from his youngest son. Except it wasn’t a message in the traditional sense. Apparently, his son was in the family car and had pleaded with his mother to call daddy. Bob’s wife had tried to explain that daddy was in the middle of work and they would Skype later that night. But little Danny either didn’t understand – or didn’t very much care for the answer he received. He somehow dialed the number (unbeknownst to mom) but as he did began to cry and say over and over again, “I miss Daddy so, so much. I just want my Daddy to come home!”
This entire drama was caught on tape. As Bob listened to the message, his legs went wobbly and an emotional tidal wave swept over him. Thankfully, it was Friday afternoon. He knew what he needed to do. As soon as his shift ended, he climbed in the car and began the long drive home. There would be no rest, no exploration that weekend – but there would be so much more.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, Bob arrived home to his sleeping family. He spent the weekend as any good dad does – going, going, going, relieving his wife of some work and reconnecting with everyone. On Sunday afternoon, he climbed back in the car to head back to the job. He’s done this several times since.
The family is due to arrive next week, reunited once again.
We all know that kids need their dads, but rarely are we afforded such a blatant reminder from the child him or her self.
I’d like to salute every mother and father out there, like Bob and his wife, who are doing what needs to be done to keep the family together and live responsibly within their means.
Life isn’t easy, but the Lord’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Speaking personally, I returned back home from Seattle on Friday night, home to my own family and I couldn’t be happier. But I’ll hit the road again this week for a few speaking engagements. It is hard to be away from Jean and the boys for even a night.
But as my friend Bob reflected, imagine our men and women in the military (or other professions) who cannot just hop in a car or take a flight home after a few days away. We must keep them in our prayers.