Those are hard words to say. But I am sorry that I am 3 days late in getting this Pop Pop epistle written. It was supposed to be written to you on your birthday. And though I didn’t forget that it was your birthday I did forget to write this.
So perhaps you can think of this, to use a baseball metaphor, as sending your birthday into extra innings. But it also gives me a teaching opportunity.
Saying “I’m sorry” is very hard. It is for me at least. Ask your mom about the time when she and her brothers were young that I had to gather the whole family together and apologize to them. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I can already tell that you are going to be an incredible man when you grow up. You have energy and passion. You are very loving and you feel deeply. You are creative and gifted. But as is true for all of us, you are also going to have lots of opportunities to say “I’m sorry.” There is no shame in being sorry for something that you do. It is a mark of maturity and godliness. There is, however, great shame in feeling no sorrow and having no desire to make things right.
So, again, I will say to you “I’m sorry” and I suspect it will not be the last time that I have to do so. And as I rejoice with you that you are now 3 years old, here is my birthday blessing to you…
May the Lord energize you as you grow up to do great things in His Name. May He give you a tender heart towards people and a passionate desire to please Him. May you understand how great the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness is towards you and may you daily grow in grace.
And may you never forget that you are very very loved!
I’m guessing that you did not stay up to watch the game last night. But let me tell you a little about it. It was the college football national championship game between Alabama and Georgia. Georgia took a 13-0 lead going into halftime which was pretty surprising. Alabama’s offense really did not do much at all in the first half so the ‘Bama coach, Nick Saban, replaced him in the 2nd half with a quarterback that had only taken a few snaps all year. ALL YEAR. And the QB that was taken out had led the team to back to back national championship games and a 25-2 record. Anyway, this true freshman QB, Tua Tagovailoa, comes in and throws several touchdown passes to get Alabama back into the game. The 2 teams are tied at the end of regulation and then after a 16 yard loss on a Georgia sack Tua throws a 41 yard touchdown pass to win the game and the national championship in overtime.
It was a game that I suspect will be talked about for a long time but here are a couple of lessons that I want you to learn early in your life.
1) Excellence requires preparation – How was Tua able to play at such a high level without any game experience? Because everyday in practice for the whole season he worked as if he was one play away from getting into the game. He prepared diligently so that he would be ready if and when the time came. Well, the time came and he was ready. You can apply this principle of preparation to just about everything in life. Sports. School. Work. Spiritual life. Learn to work hard and prepare diligently so that you will be ready to excel when “game-time” comes.
2) Disappointment requires humility and courage – Most people today are talking about the performance of Tua Tagovailoa. But I was equally impressed by Jalen Hurts – the quarterback who was taken out of the game after the first half. No doubt he was disappointed when he was pulled from the game. But you will find out along the way that life is full of disappointments. The way that you handle these disappointments will reveal a lot about your character. Both on the sidelines during the second half and in the post game interviews Jalen Hurts spoke with humility and courage. He recognized that the game was not just about him. He graciously deferred to his coach’s decision to take him out of the game and as a result he is a member of a national championship team. Learn this lesson early on in your life – life is not just about you. Our selfish sinful natures often makes this hard to believe. But believe it! And then when disappointments come – which I promise you they will – you can handle them with humility and courage and grace because you know the One that life IS all about, the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:3-11)