When I returned from a trip overseas, I sensed that something was wrong between Keith (one of our twin sons) and me. So I asked him, "Keith, have I done anything that really hurt your feelings?"
Instantly, he said, "Yes. Last Christmas you promised me a special toy that I really wanted and you never gave it to me."
The fact is that I'd completely forgotten about it. I probed further: "Is there anything else I've done that I've never asked for your forgiveness?"
Again, his answer was immediate: "Remember when Mom said you had to go to the hospital because Stephen was going to be born? You left us at home and took off in a hurry. Remember?" I did.
"Well, you took off and forgot the suitcase with all the stuff." I couldn't believe all the details he remembered! "After you left Mom at the hospital, you came back and you were huffy. When you got here, the suitcase had been opened and everything was thrown all over the place. And you punished me."
My heart sank. "And you didn't do it?" I asked.
"No, I didn't."
I felt terrible. I hugged Keith and asked him to forgive me. There was an instant improvement in our relationship after that. But his honesty made me think of our other son, Kevin. After all, maybe I'd hurt him, too. I went to find Kevin and I asked him the same question: "Have I ever done something wrong and never asked your forgiveness or promised you something and never kept my promise?"
Kevin's answer was as instant as his brother's had been: "Last Christmas you promised us a special toy and you never bought it for us." Kevin had no idea I'd just talked to Keith about the same thing.
Though it was way past Christmas, I took my two sons to the store that day and bought them what I had promised. The important thing wasn't the toy that was all the rage at the time. Obviously, it was a big deal to my boys even if it wasn't to me. The problem was I'd made a promise all too lightly and dropped the ball as their father.
At times, trying to fulfill all my obligations and responsibilities as a husband and father and an evangelist seem impossible. So often, an excruciating schedule lies before me, and sometimes I'm gone from home for weeks at a time. But I listened to my sons and I learned that keeping my word is one of the most important things I can do—no matter what my schedule is.
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