Seven years ago, a rambunctious little boy came into our lives. We named him Jackson, which means “God has been gracious.” We certainly felt God’s unmerited favor resting upon us as we welcomed his arrival. The months leading up to his birth were marked by one scare after another, prompting us to seek God’s grace in so many ways. But those days of trial also gave rise to Jackson’s middle name: Cash. In some cultures, the term is synonymous with peace. Of course, there was the added bonus of homage to my favorite artist of all time, Johnny Cash. But in the end, our prayer was simple: may the days of this child’s life be more peaceful than his days in the womb.
In many respects, Jackson has brought a sense of completeness to our family. As the youngest of three, Jackson was already positioned to grow up in the wake of an older brother and an older sister. But in addition, Jackson has the added challenge of growing up as the younger sibling to a pair of twins. Multiples have a special bond, as you would expect to find with two people whose shared history goes all the way back to conception. But I’ve seen it with my own eyes: it takes a special person – a very self-differentiated individual – to carve out his own identity, distinct from the “twinning” tendencies of his siblings. Trust me, Jackson is just such an individual.
Jackson, you are strong and full of vitality. Your mind is a gift, second only to your industriousness. I love your fire and determination – even in moments when those same gifts create challenges as your mother and I try to parent you! But they are uniquely yours, branded onto your soul by your Creator from your earliest days. God has uniquely fashioned you, son, for His glorious purposes. Today we give thanks for the expression of grace that your life is to us. He didn’t owe us anything, yet He chose in His wisdom and goodness to bestow your life to us. Inasmuch as you are ours to watch over, we turn you back over to your God, the One to whom you truly belong. May your life be anointed with His presence. May you continue to grow in the ways that bring glory and honor to His name. And may the world know peace by the span of your life as the borders of the Kingdom of Shalom are expanded in you and through you.
You are my son, God’s grace and peace in my heart.