Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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Weight of Glory

August 25, 2022

Sam Keyes

“I have dreamed in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.”  [1] 

Fatherhood is more like waking up than dreaming. The shimmering opportunities of the ‘before times’ – those “vivid, thoughtless dreams of youth; bright illusions, clad in robes of truth [2]“–supplanted now by the daunting, concrete necessities of placing food on the table; keeping up mortgage payments; and entering daily into the liturgies of comfort, correction, and encouragement. Yet I find my little girls have gone through and through me, reupholstering my heart, and rearranging the furniture of my inner world. Like buried artifacts unearthed by a storm, things long concealed now lie close to the surface of consciousness. I weep more easily. My heart has been split into pieces, now carried outside my body, in two fragile vessels of flesh and blood.

Can the mortal mind ever grasp the gravity of bringing living, breathing beings into the world? Can our identities remain untransformed? I am reminded of the old complaint, directed at earthly and heavenly parents alike: “what gave you the right to bring me into this world of suffering?” The central thesis of the complaint becomes honed to a fine point in the transition to parenthood, a point which you find is turned towards your own ragged heart. Those who answer the creation mandate to “be fruitful and multiply [3]“–partnering in the Father’s work of knitting together new image-bearers–must bear their little ones into the beauty and the terror of life under the sun. We must inhabit the tension inherent to God’s fatherly vocation; He who on the one hand “chose us in Him before the creation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him [4],” but on the other, admits that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted [5].” As we bring children into this world of certain pain, each parent hears the dark echoes of Simeon’s words to Mary: “a sword will pierce your own soul also.” [6]

Those who answer the creation mandate to “be fruitful and multiply“–partnering in the Father’s work of knitting together new image-bearers–must bear their little ones into the beauty and the terror of life under the sun.

We know too much about this world not to weep at the trusting natures and guileless optimism of our children: their bodies as yet untouched by serious pain, their imaginations as yet unstained by images that can never be unseen, their trust as yet free from the scars of betrayal. Our children confront us with the daily battle to believe that even in this vale of tears, to bring life into the world is good. We inherit the tension of He who, while “sending [his disciples] out as sheep in the midst of wolves [7]” , knew that to the Father, “even the very hairs of [their] heads are all numbered [8].” 

This song is a meditation on my calling as a father, shot through with the realisation that my identity is now forever bound up with the lives of my little ones. It wrestles with the burden that whilst my calling is now inseparable from the care and nurture of their souls, it is not in my gift to guard them from all harm.

The song ends with the words of the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6. We have taught our daughter Martha to pray the words of this ancient liturgy each night over her little sister Mabel: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace [9].” Yahweh promised Moses that as the priests proclaimed these words over the people, “so shall they put my name upon [them], and I will bless them [10].”   The song is a trembling declaration of faith that He still does so.

[1] Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 1992, p. 57.

2. Keyes, Edward. Retrospect from the City Walls, York; A Few Late Leaves. 

3. Genesis 1:22, ESV

4. Ephesians 1:4, ESV

5 – 2 Timothy 3:12, ESV

6. Luke 2:35, ESV

7. Matthew 10:16, ESV

8. Matthew 10:30, ESV

9. Numbers 6:24-26, ESV

10. Numbers 6:27, ESV

Image courtesy of Janko Ferlič via Unsplash. We are grateful for his generosity.

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  1. Hello Sam!
    I figured this was not Annie, writing about fatherhood so movingly☺️. Publishers imps aside, this was really good. I have written about fatherhood on my blog, from the perspective of a daughter. I realize now, I had no idea what I
    was doing.

  2. Libby says:

    As a girl my father left. I am so blessed today to get a glimpse of fatherhood from your perspective and to extrapolate a beautiful shimmer of God’s love for me.
    Thank you for sharing.

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