My incredible Yusef,
You are my first child. You are my first born. You are my first son. And for a decade, you were my only kid.
I have been always quick to tell you how much of a father I was not to you when you were a baby but I have never gone into too many details. When you were younger, oh, I was around. I never left to go anywhere. I didn’t abandon you but that doesn’t mean I was with you. I always thought my stuff and my time was more important than you and your mom—stuff like World of Warcraft, watching sports, or feeding into my addiction of pornography. Furthermore, I treated your mom like crap. I didn’t love her. I didn’t respect her. I didn’t love her like a husband should have. I didn’t love you like a good father should have.
You received all this bullshit teaching as soon as you were born. Till this day, I am utterly confused on why the God of the heavens would give me not only a child but an incredible, awesome, little baby boy. In fact, when you were born, I was still working in pornography. That might not blow your mind now but when you figure it out; you tell me why that makes sense.
Yet, if there was any case that God’s ways are higher than our ways and what he sees is infinitely more, nay perfectly, more than what we see, then our testimonies would be the premiere example. God saw fit to give me to you knowing perfectly well I was going to mess it all up.
But God didn’t stop there. He was continuously with me and with you.
When you were around two years old, God started the relentless, active, powerful pursuit of my heart and soul. He gave me a job where I had to work with a man named Christopher Haun who started sharing the love of God with me. I thought I was saved because I said a prayer when I was eight years old. But I did not know nor love God. Chris started planting ideas into my mind on the deep things of God—thoughts that I couldn’t let go. Then when you were about four years old, your God sovereignly and graciously moved me to a job where I worked with Court Simas and Eric Patrick. I tell people I was a Christian but I was not. Court and Eric knew better and they began praying for me and sharing the gospel with me.
In April of 2007, God saved your daddy. He took away my cold, hardened heart of granite and gave me his soft, tender heart of love.
Then I remember, not soon after, the day that you were saved. We were driving back from your house to my apartment in Dallas (where I lived close to my friend Sophia). We were stuck in the middle of traffic going from 121 to 635 east. In the middle of going nowhere fast, you asked me from the backseat, “Dad, am I good?”
That was the hardest question I ever had to answer. On the one hand, you were a great kid. You never got in trouble. You have gotten two spankings in your life. You nearly always behaved. You were always kind and wonderful. I could have said, “Of course you are” and that would have been the end of that. However, that would not have been the truth. You were my son and I could not hold the truth from you. With sadness welling up in my eyes, I calmly looked back and replied, “None of us are good, Yusef. We have all fought against God. We have all made mistakes. We are not perfect. We are not good. And because we are not good, we are going to die. Because of our mistakes, we are going to be punished by God forever.”
Within a few seconds, you cried out, “I don’t want to be bad! I want to be good! How can I be good?” With my heart in my throat and my face hot with tears, I told you, “Then let me tell you about the God who makes us good so that we can be with him forever.”
That is when I shared the gospel of Christ with you. It was in the moment that you believed in and trusted in God.
God has been magnificent. He saved your Grandpa. He saved your Daddy. He saved you. Never forget what God has done in your life.
Yusef, I love you so much. I cannot believe I get to be your Dad. I can’t wait to meet the man of God that you will be soon.
What makes you incredible is the tenderness and the softness of your heart. Not only do you feel emotions well but you receive teaching well. Some people might have a hard heart against what God has to say but He has given you His heart and it shows. But because your heart is soft, that doesn’t mean you are always aware of the people around you. I know you grew up an only kid with me as the only one you needed attention from. But now God has overwhelmingly blessed you with a stepmom and tons of brothers and sisters. Your soft heart is ready to love more. If you want to love more, pay more attention to the people around you rather than yourself. I call this out in you because tenderness and compassion for others is what makes a man—not selfishness and focusing on yourself.
Your soft heart is already putting to use with your increased boldness in proclaiming the gospel of God. Son, you will never know how proud you make me when you talk about the gospel and your unflinching instinct to share with strangers and the people closest to you like your mother. You are not scared. You are courageous. You proclaim the gospel. Here is the absolute, unbreakable, unchangeable truth of the gospel. One, it is the power of God in salvation for those who believe. (Romans 1:16) Two, in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written, “the righteous shall live by faith”. (Romans 1:17 cf. Habakkuk 2:4) Three, when the word of God goes out, it will not return without power—meaning that the word of God will accomplish what God wants to accomplish. (Isaiah 55:10-11) Fourth, the only way people receive faith to believe in God is by hearing and hearing through the word of God. (Romans 10:17) What are you going to do? Fail? Lose? Not succeed? You can’t fail. You can’t lose. You cannot not succeed when you share the gospel of God. Want to know a secret? You want to win all the time? You want to succeed 100% of the time? Plain and simple, share the gospel of God. Keep sharing and share some more. Not just words, son, but devote your life, time, money and love to people around you. By what you say and do, people will know your love for them. When they do, you will have that amazing moment in time to tell them why you do love them so and how can you love them so much. Answer: because of the love of God for them.
This is my life. This is my calling. “Preach the gospel, die, and then be forgotten.” Likewise, whatever God has called my kids into, he is good and I will forever praise His good name. As your Dad, it is my job to equip you as a saint for the work of the ministry. Whatever you might do with your life, you will be fully equipped to share the gospel. Whatever you might do with your life, glorify God and love one another.
Yusef, my son, I love you. I am always here for you. I am always your Dad. I am always your buddy.
Go and see the glory of God.
From your proud Pops,