I was on my knees, praying at the side of my bed.
At the time, this was not uncommon for me. I would often fall asleep on my knees, waking up sometime in the night with my light still on and my legs fast asleep.
On this particular night, sometime in the latter years of junior high, God changed my heart. I don’t remember what I was praying about or what else was going on in that moment. All I remember is that suddenly I loved a wife whom I did not yet know and children who were not yet born.
Many people have compared our hearts to a home where Jesus comes to live. It was as though He spoke into my heart home and instantly an addition was built for the distinct purpose of housing a family.
Before that moment a baby’s cry aggravated me; after that moment I felt compassion for them. Before that moment children younger than me were an annoyance, but after that moment I enjoyed time with them. Before that moment I looked at girls with the same interest other boys had in them, but after that time any interest I had in girls that went beyond friendship knew only one purpose – to find my wife.
This isn’t to say that I was deluded enough to think I was ready for all of these things at such a young age. Of course I knew I couldn’t be married or have children for many years. However, I was deluded enough to think that I could meet someone in junior or senior high school and stay in a godly relationship with them long enough to marry them someday (not saying this couldn’t happen, but I will counsel my children to not look for a spouse until they are ready to be married).
The point is that my heart was changed in a moment. God did a divine work in me and I was wrecked forever. He created the inner wiring for a family and it began my pursuit to find and help create the people whom I already loved.
My pursuit continued through college, where the Lord told me to begin praying every day that He would give me my wife, to not leave Him alone on the issue until He fulfilled His promise. I did this, praying faithfully for my wife every day for about two years. And then, finally, somewhere around ten years after God changed my heart, I married my wife Amy on December 16, 2006.
We now have three children and are expecting our fourth, who will be born shortly before our fifth anniversary. There are five people living in the addition God built within my heart, and the love He deposited then beats stronger for them now than it did then.
As I reflect on the story of my fatherhood, one thing stands out to me above everything else. It is that God deposited love in my heart, and from that love fatherhood was born. This fatherhood continues to grow, not merely because I have so many children, but because I keep learning more of what fatherhood really means.
Where are you in your journey toward fatherhood – or motherhood, for that matter? Wherever you are, I challenge you to continue to grow, to keep searching, to keep approaching our Heavenly Father and learning from Him until our fatherhood can be described the same way as His –