During my growing-up years in small town America, our local newspaper contained several sections. We had the National News, the Sports, the Comics and the Classifieds. But the most-read part of the newspaper was the Local News, or “About Town” section. This was about as close to a gossip column as you could get without breaking one of the Ten Commandments.
Unless you lived in our town, you wouldn’t have found anything in that section worth reading. Sometimes, the paper used first names only; for example: “Bill went into town and was enjoying a cup of coffee at the Pioneer Cafe when Ed and June came in, fresh from their vacation. They spent a week visiting their middle son, Bob, and his wife, Eleanor.”
Of course in a small town, everyone knew Bill, Ed and June, and there wasn’t one person who would disagree that Bob should never have married Eleanor. He became infatuated with this city girl after they met in college. Eleanor didn’t like to come to see the in-laws because the town didn’t have a mall with a Macy’s store. That explains why, twice a year, Ed and June made a trip to visit Bob and his family. Of course, everyone knew that “going on vacation” was a euphemism for “seeing the grandkids.”
Yep, that’s right. Most of the local news in a small town newspaper is found between the lines. And if you grew up in a small town, you couldn’t wait to read between those lines. Even today, I think the white space is the best part of the news.
This weekend, my wife and I had a wonderful time. No, we didn’t do anything special. Our entertainment came from our youngest son, Caleb, and his wife, Adrian. Caleb became concerned about a young couple whose marriage needed some work. He found a Christian retreat in Texas that they could attend. With the help of their church, this couple left for a life-changing weekend. But they also dropped off their 15-month-old son, so Caleb and Adrian became instant parents. After three years as a free-spirited couple, they were suddenly anchored with the responsibility of a baby.
I think one of the greatest things God ever did for a couple preparing for the challenges of parenthood was to give them a nine-month warning. Even for the best of them, parenthood is a shock to the system. From Friday morning through Monday morning, we heard nothing but stories about this child and what he was doing.
Saturday morning, the phone rang. It was our son. “MOM! Do you know how many times this kid has dirtied his diaper? This can’t be right.”
My wife chuckled to herself as she assured him that what goes in must come out and this was, in fact, normal. Next, we heard stories about how the baby loved cats, but the cats didn’t love the baby. When he was out toddling around, the cats hid underneath the bed. And when you couldn’t find the baby, he was usually peering under the bed trying to find the cats.
Soon, there was a knock at the door. There stood Caleb and Adrian with their young houseguest in tow, asking us if we could become temporary grandparents. My wife and I needed no warm-up period. After all, we’ve been ready for grandchildren for a long time.
Babies have been much in our thoughts and prayers lately. While I was finishing up my service in Panama, my partners in the ministry, Brent and Deanna Higgins, became grandparents. Their daughter, Whitney’s, first child was due in September. But on Aug. 6, young Tucker Henry Law, 4 pounds and 10 ounces, made an early appearance.
Brent surprised me with a text message that included a special attachment: the picture of his tiny grandson, cute as anything. And as most of you know, when it comes to grandparenting, there is no such thing as one baby picture. Next came the picture of Brent holding young Tucker, and now we are following the young man’s progress almost daily.
New life brings excitement, whether it is a baby being born or someone repenting of sin and becoming what the Bible calls “born again.” God cares about families. He cares about the birth of your children and about their rebirth, too.
When it comes to new life, I wish we could share the excitement found in God’s hometown, Heaven. “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). Yes, our Father in Heaven is like every other father: He never stops talking about His children, and a new birth always excites Him. Lord, make us more like . . . You.
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, email walker@awestar/org. Phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.