Most professors lecture from the classroom podium. Not Wallace.

Professor Wallace Bradford Bontrager teaches his students from the car seat, the crib, and the living room carpet. Rather than trolling on in never-ending academic newspeak, Wallace gives his pupils concrete object lessons.

Though he’s only lectured for just over six months, he’s already attained tenure. The secret of his success? He shows his students how much they really don’t know about life.

Last Wednesday, Wallace turned 6-months old. In the past six months, our firstborn has taught Cassidy and me so many things we didn’t know before. Here are five big ones.

1. The Meaning of Love

I’ve always had fun with babies. But until Wallace, I didn’t know it was possible to love a little person as much as I love my son.

As I cradled newborn Wallace I finally realized, This is how much my parents love me! From birth to adulthood, my parents have loved and sacrificed more than my siblings and I could ever repay.

The love Cassidy and I bear for Wallace and the love my parents bear for me pale in comparison with the far greater love the Heavenly Father has for each one us. He demonstrated His love to us “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8), giving the world the one thing He prized most, His beloved, only begotten Son (John 3:16).

2. Our Human Inability

In the days preceding July 16, 2018, Wallace’s delivery was foremost on our minds. When we returned home with Wallace from the hospital, the full weight of our parental responsibility finally sunk in—-as a helpless infant, Wallace was dependent on us for everything.

In that moment, the words of John 15:5 rang true, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Every day since, we’re reminded that stewarding a soul for eternity is a task beyond our ability. Like Wallace relies on us, we must depend on God for everything. Ultimately, our best efforts are insufficient without God’s blessing.

The most important life work we have together is raising Wallace to love Jesus. We can’t do that on our own.

3. Our Unconscious Selfishness

Babies have a way of revealing weeds in parents’ souls. Wallace continues to show us how selfish we actually are.

While parenting is an absolute joy, Wallace reminds us that life isn’t about us anyways. It’s all about others.

4. The Brevity and Blessing of Life

Life is a flurry. We blink, and it’s gone. In light of this truth, Moses exhorts, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

This morning, I loved watching Wallace stretch, yawn, and smile when he woke up.

I have big dreams for this little guy. I pray that he’ll love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. As he gets older, I hope to work with him and to teach him manliness, discipline, and Christian character. Someday, I want to see his face glow as his lovely bride walks down the aisle.

But none of this is guaranteed. We don’t know how much time we have left with Wallace.

Wallace has taught us that every moment is precious, and that people, not projects are what matter most in life. We’ve resolved to slow down and enjoy every moment God gives us with him.

5. The Necessity of Intentionality

Wallace’s birth has caused us to critically and biblically evaluate everything we do.

Wallace is more than a baby. By God’s grace, we pray he’ll be a future father, grandfather, and great-grandfather to pass down a multi-generational vision and legacy.

Our disciplines, influences, marriage, conversation, music, movies, habits, and friendships are all impacting him in some way. Will these things help Wallace become the man God wants him to be?

We should ask questions like the following: What books should he be reading? What music should he listen to? Who should his friends be?

More importantly, we should ask, What influences and people are shaping Cassidy and I today? How will those things affect how we raise our little boy?

I once thought I learned primarily from older people. I was wrong. God can use anyone. Even Wallace.

QUESTION: What things are you grateful for that your parents did for you?

Other Posts About Wallace:

Introducing Wallace Bradford! Why the Name?

Why We Didn’t Wait

Meet Wallace Bradford!

Categories: Family

8 Comments

Ann · January 23, 2019 at 9:12 am

My parents did so much for me that I’m grateful for, I could write a book on the subject. Above all, they gave me a living example of being true to the vows taken during a wedding – they stuck together under a degree of pressure that would have broken a lot of marriages. However hard it got, they loved each other and were loyal to each other.

They made sure I had a strong, Christian code of ethics and the self-confidence to be true to that code come what may. Ultimately they gave me their trust and let me fly, believing I would fly true.

Thinking about your lovely post about Wallace reminds me of something one of my religious studies teachers once said about their journey, ‘First you learn to teach, then you learn that by your students you shall be taught’. That teacher was so right; whatever you teach and whoever you teach it to, you will learn as much if not more.

Ann

    Joshua Bontrager · January 23, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Ann,

    Thanks for sharing! Great quote.

Nathan · January 25, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Hello Joshua!

I so appreciated your last blog post! Your Point 4 echoed in my spirit how that no matter what stage of life I am at, am I numbering my days (or hours or even minutes!) with wisdom? Very convicting, thank you for your ministry of encouragement!

-Nathan

    Joshua Bontrager · January 28, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Nathan,

    Thank-you! Only when we view every day as gift from God are we prepared to make the most of it.

Laura · January 25, 2019 at 9:26 pm

Very sweet & touching post! Love the grin in the photo.
It IS amazing how much wisdom even little, tiny people can teach us. Enjoy many more classes with Prof. Wallace!

My parents have shaped me in so many ways, and been a blessing that I don’t deserve!
Beyond the obvious things, ( thank you for having me, caring for me and teaching me, mom and dad!!!),
I’m grateful that my dad has been an example of a hard worker to provide for his family without complaining, consistency and knowing a lot.
My mom… Her love for me, being a friend, long chats and encouragement to learn are invaluable gifts she gave. The sincere interest she took in all types of people and her passion for Jesus taught me so much.
Thanks, Josh, for the prompt to being thankful and remembering all the sacrifices and investment our parents put into us!

    Joshua Bontrager · January 28, 2019 at 7:59 am

    Laura,

    Thank-you for viewing your parents with gratitude!

    Sadly, many today focus on the things they wish their parents would have done differently rather than being grateful for the what their parents did do. The secret ultimately lies in our focus. Are we focused on God or ourselves? If we’re focused on God, we’ll view all of life, including our parents, through the lense of gratitude. If we’re focused on ourselves, we’ll continually mope over what we wish we had.

    I’m glad you enjoyed Wallace’s grin! I get to every day!

M · January 29, 2019 at 1:06 pm

Hi Joshua,
I enjoy reading your blog and admire your strong faith. I wondered if you might address something that I’ve struggled with (and my spouse and I have been struggling with more and more now that we are parents). Namely, we are having trouble “squaring” that these three things can be true: God’s omnipotence, that Jesus was truly made man, and that God is a loving father. As a parent now myself, I can’t imagine allowing my made-human son to be tortured to death, and if I was omnipotent, I would find a way for that not to be the case. It seems so cruel and unnecessary if God is omnipotent, the whole human-sacrifice aspect, of it all. If you don’t want to post this or respond, that’s okay. It has just been a big-time struggle for us to deal with as new parents (the biggest, most unanticipated struggle, to be honest), so I thought I’d ask how you and Cassidy deal with that. Thanks!

    Joshua Bontrager · February 8, 2019 at 10:45 am

    M,

    Thanks for your comment! That’s a great question. I’m still learning myself, but here are a few thoughts. First, we must understand that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). We must acknowledge, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34). Therefore, we won’t always understand everything about God. I Corinthians 13 says, “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.” From a human perspective, God’s work doesn’t always make sense. God doesn’t operate how we operate.

    In some way, when He allowed His Son to suffer, He was all-loving and all-powerful at the same time. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, though God himself, took on the body of a man (Philippians 2), so He could suffer as a man for our sins. Yet because He was still perfect God, His suffering provided redemption for us.

    We’re not called to fully understand exactly why God does everything He does, although His Word gives some of those answers. However, we are called to fully trust in Him. He is the Creator. We are the work of His hands, designed to reflect His image and to glorify Him.

    Cassidy and I are still learning a lot each day. We have to realize that God’s plan for our son is always the best.

    Does this answer your question?

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