I didn’t know what life would bring all these years later. I could not have conceived of the joys or the struggles, the opportunities or the suffering. I was just a boy. Full of hope. Full of dreams. Curious about the world around me and anxious to throw myself into each pursuit which captured my interest.
I remember posing for this photo. It was in Newberg at Mabel Rush Elementary School. I dressed myself that morning. Can you tell? I had on my favorite shoes. My striped pants to go with the cool pink shirt with white stripes. But most importantly I wore my imitation leather snake belt. In my imagination I caught the snake myself, intrepid adventurer that I was. Wisely, my Mom let me choose this ensemble and took me to school, proud of how I was growing up and learning to take care of myself.
So, there I was, the photographer at the ready. I was asked to stand over by the post. The pose came naturally. I stood tall and proud, independent of mind, never realizing that over thirty-seven years later I would be writing about this photo.
Vietnam was in full swing back then. My friends and I talked about growing up and going to war. In hushed voices we knew that many died in the long-lasting conflict which had started before our births. Violence broke out across the country with protests and assassinations. The recession had severely depressed the economy and my family felt the full force of its impact. My dad finally landed a job with the local police force, earning $7.00 per hour. There were gasoline rationing lines and unemployment was high. Yet I had hope. My parents loved each other. My family was intact. I knew God loved me and that Jesus was Lord of my life. Every night I prayed to him in that simple childlike way which so often visits my prayers even to this day. I knew then and know now that he heard me. I felt his presence with the full idealistic faith of a child. There was a sense of wonder that Almighty God would listen to me, attend to me, in my humble estate. That wonder remains today, not lost through the undergrowth of theological sophistication, or the ravages of pain which invariably accompanies a life jaded through varied experiences.
I look into the eyes of that boy and I wonder if he would be proud. I wonder if he would be surprised. Maybe even disappointed at some of my decisions over the course of time. Not so long before the taking of this photo my mother drew me close to her and led me to assurance of faith in Jesus Christ. That assurance has never been shaken, notwithstanding the perils I have faced and the treachery of my own willfulness. God has protected me over all these years and in Christ I know I am secure. Although there are wounds that run deeply and pierce the most private places of my heart, I know that God can redeem even those hurts so that once again I can dream with the faith of the child I once was. This is part of the legacy of having been raised in a home where the content and practice of faith in Jesus Christ informed so much of our life together.