Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 15, 2003


Becoming a father can change your perspective about everything


          Unexpectedly, Andy wrote me last week. When I saw his name, I was sure Andy was not someone I had known.

            I was wrong. Andy told me he used to come to church with his friend Dan when they were in their teens. That was 40 years ago.

            He heard me preach, he said, and enjoyed my sermons, but they made no great impact upon his life.

            What changed things for Andy was the birth of his daughter years later. “When Kelly was born,” Andy related, “I began to understand the meaning of life. It was like God had hit me in the head with a brick!”

            When he held that tiny baby in his hands, and looked into her beautiful eyes, things began to fall into place for Andy. “I think for the first time, the whole idea of the grace of God, the gift of salvation, made sense. It was for me a life-changing moment.”

            Andy had to become a father for the love of God to make sense to him. That is not surprising. I have had many other fathers, and mothers, to echo this same sentiment.

            It is indeed a remarkable experience to hold your firstborn in your hands for the very first time. So tiny, so beautiful, so perfectly formed, so full of life. The words most of us utter at that moment are easy to remember – “It’s a miracle!”

            Andy’s letter was tender and encouraging; it was unlike any I have ever received. I thanked him for his kind words about my preaching, but even more for sharing the beautiful way God had reached him in the birth of his daughter.

            God tries a thousand different ways to get our attention. We may ignore him for years, until one day, when we are least expecting it, he hits us squarely between the eyes.

            Suddenly, like a blind man receiving his sight, we see the truth for the first time. No longer in the dark, we begin to “see” what really matters. We are blind no longer!

            Material things lose their significance. People become important. Relationships, friendships, become priceless to us. Life changes. Our perspective changes and it is never the same – after the brick in the head!

            Andy’s message stirs my memories of the birth of our five sons. I remember each occasion as though it was yesterday.

            First, there was David Walter. We named him after our fathers. He was such a beautiful baby.

            I will admit it – I counted his fingers and his toes! He had the right number. I was nervous, afraid at first that I might hurt him or drop him. He relaxed in my arms. I looked at Dean and smiled, thinking, “You have given me a precious son!”

            Three years later David’s death became even more of a life-changing experience for me and his mother. We wanted to die ourselves. We thought life was over. We would never have another child. Our beautiful son was gone forever!

            As God healed our sorrow, he soon gave us another son. I remember reading a book about childbirth during Dean’s pregnancy. One night she startled me by saying, “It’s time! We have to go to the hospital!”

            I said, “Honey, we can’t go yet. I am only into chapter seven of the book about childbirth.” She said, “Forget the book; we are going to have a baby tonight!”

            We did. Matt was born. Another handsome boy.  We rejoiced that night in the goodness of God.

            Soon Mark arrived, then Tim, and finally, Steve. Each one was welcomed into the world with great joy. Each weighed more than nine pounds. Steve actually weighed almost eleven pounds! Each has made us proud, and each has become a wonderful father, giving us 12 precious grandchildren.

            Steve was anxious to discover America. The doctor was at a dinner when Dean told a nurse, “The baby is coming!”

            The nurse said, “No, honey, we have to take you to the delivery room first.”

            Dean was right. Before the doctor could be summoned, and before the nurse could do anything but shout for help, Steve arrived!

            The nurse insisted that I step outside the room. I did. I heard the nurse slap Steve’s little rear end. There was no sound for what seemed like an eternity. Then I heard him cry – and vigorously so! He was alive! I leaned against the door and gave thanks.

            Father’s Day is here again. Andy and I will share the same thought on this day.

We will give thanks to God for what he did for us in that glorious moment when we became fathers.

            Fatherhood does change your perspective. It helps you understand God better. It helps you get a handle on life that you never had before.

            Thanks Andy. Happy Father’s Day to you – and Kelly. + + + +