So this is what it’s come to. Piles of Star Wars Legos taking over the house as he and the Bubster build themselves crazy, gabbing about the plot the entire time. He never buys himself a thing unless it happens to be for the business.

Years ago, however, it was all about the toys. All about the hobbies and living paycheck to paycheck to support those hobbies. Jetskis and dirt bikes and four wheelers. Stereo systems and video games and stacks of gangster movies. Filling up his time with fun. And more fun.

How things change.

One at a time they began to disappear. Not by my doing, but by his own accord. No more Jetskis. No more four wheelers. The movies were sold and the video games stored away for a day when he and a son could be James Bond, killing bad guys via first person shooter.

But the bike… That was the one that got me. It was his favorite. His pride and joy.

He’d started riding just after high school and broke his foot on the first run out. Throttled that thing right into the side of a tree. But he didn’t quit. It made him work harder. And he was good.

Woods racing was his thing. Lap after lap until he almost couldn’t stand from the exhaustion of it all. But the races were on Sundays. Not a big deal at first but as life went on something stirred. Something changed.

If “church” were about that dress up thing where we hypocrites gathered together to make pretty faces, shake hands dutifully and tried to stay awake during the message, that’d be one thing. Even I wouldn’t bother. In fact, I never did…because that’s the idea I had permanently etched in my head.

But I was wrong. We both were.

He hated it when we attended without him. So much so that I remember clearly the last time I saw that bike carefully strapped into the back of his pickup, ready for the new owner.

Racing was over. He took Sunday back.

That’s the day I knew he was on his way to becoming that term I’d heard about but never made much sense of.

The “spiritual leader” of our home.

He was growing into that man before my very eyes and I held my breath a really long time wondering if it would fade.

Because, you know, we sometimes try things on for size and just find they don’t fit us like we thought. We date some that we never marry. We change majors when we realize it’s not our thing. We work jobs that never click and move on to another.

And though my experiences were few, I knew that there were those who submitted to Christ and turned away after a time. And it might not have bothered me. At first.

Then you taste and see what’s good. What those living, breathing Words stand for as they crash into you full force like a wave that took your legs off guard. Washed away of all that legalism and hypocrisy as you develop a penchant to see it for what it truly is. Genuine grace.

A gift that comes with an incredible power for doing life outside our own desires and fleshly tendencies. It’s a force, guiding and counseling and carrying us through that same life that wants to rely on our feelings, but won’t. Can’t. Shouldn’t.

And I glance back at those Star Wars Legos once more, spotting Jedi that rely on a force that’s not their own and I see that deep down we all have the right idea. It’s weaved into the fabric of our hearts in such a way that we can’t escape it. Even when we don’t believe…yet…it’s there for the taking if we just fix our eyes a little differently.

Once we recognize that real deal – that real force that’s not a force at all, but a Spirit with the power to transform us – we can’t let go.

And he hasn’t.

Gone are the days of using up all of his free time on just him. Now, he fills it with investing in something much bigger. Time with our kids. Surprising me with dinner out. Hospital visits. Home visits. Preparing to teach his class of little ones or middle schoolers.

…following the lead of the Holy Spirit.

I didn’t ask his permission to write this today. Words of affirmation aren’t his thing and anonymity is always his first choice. But forgiveness is second nature to him now…

So I think it’ll be ok.

The old me wouldn’t see the transparency. Wouldn’t understand that my gratefulness to him would be for his submission alone. Submission to Christ. …for letting Jesus take the wheel.

At the end of the day, when we can humble ourselves to say “Lord, not my will be done, but yours,” we know there is truly no other explanation. It’s His authority we submit to and our gratitude alone is for grace.

Happy Father’s Day, Jonathon. You make me want to become more like Him. And I love you more than anything for that fact alone.