Never take advantage of relishing in time with family

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist

“Dad, do you want to run to Amarillo with me?” That was the question that came across the phone line into my office. My son was needing to pick up his international driver’s license in Amarillo.

Hmm. I hadn’t planned to take a trip that day. I had a long list of stuff I’d planned to do and thought I needed to scratch off the “To Do” list ASAP… and gas is bumping up toward $2.30 a gallon.

But there was the question: “Dad, do you want to run to Amarillo with me?”

But that day the answer was easy. “Yes! You bet!” And if he’d said, “Dad, do you want to run to Detroit with me?” I’d have been tempted to give the very same answer.

In two days, Stephan will be heading back to Africa to do mission work in Uganda for the next two years. I’m glad he’s going… Well, you know what I mean. I’m glad that he, and our oldest son who will also be leaving in a few weeks, have been blessed with the opportunity to do what they’re doing.

But two years is a long time. They’ve just been home for a few weeks, and I’ve been experiencing and relishing the taste of a really wonderful blessing, one that almost surprised me at first and I’ve felt some before but never as strongly as now: I’ve been enjoying my sons not just as dearly loved children, which they’ll always be to me, but as adults who I love and respect.

Lots of parents have already received that blessing and have told me about it, but I’m seeing it more and more for myself, and I’m very thankful for it. I felt it myself as a son when years ago that began to happen between me and my own father, and now I’m feeling it from the other perspective, and it is a very good thing.

“Do you want to run to Amarillo with me?”

Yes! Because I know that next week I’ll be aching to be able to go anywhere with you.

A few decades ago when my oldest brother and his wife left home to do mission work in Malawi, Africa, for what would become twenty years, they went for three-to-four year stays, and the mission in Africa that now serves hundreds of churches was in its very early, very primitive state.

We sent “air letters” back and forth that took over two weeks (not two nanoseconds like e-mail). Often we made cassette tapes and sent them. Long conversations, but pretty one-sided. We made a phone call or two a year, which were very expensive and not at all reliable (and now we call the guys’ cell phone for 8 cents a minute or so and it usually sounds like they’re closer to us than they really are).

The world really is a much smaller place, and I’m glad. But, still, I know a little more now how mom and dad must have felt.

“Dad, do you want to run to Amarillo with me?”

Yes! More than you know.