Hi. I’m Ken Jones, and This is A Classic State of Mind, with a word about: The Hill

No one told me, when I was younger, that over the course of my life as a parent, I would receive a lot of different kinds of calls from my kids. I remember with great clarity, for example a call I got from my oldest son saying his wife had gone into labor with our first grandchild, and he was on his way to the hospital. You don’t quickly forget that kind of call.

I remember phone calls about classes they took that they thought were too hard;  calls about girls they had met who were ‘interesting.’ I’ve had phone calls asking my opinion on cars one of my sons was thinking about buying, or vacation spots they were thinking about visiting, or restaurants they tried that they wanted to recommend. I’ve had dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of phone calls from all of my sons, throughout my years of parenting.

But there’s a particular kind of call that sort of stands out from all the rest. It’s a call that begins with the words, “Dad, I’m alright. I wasn’t hurt …” and then what comes after that is a sort of blur, because those first few words made you know that follows can’t be a particularly good thing.

This week, as I drove down a specific hill, I remembered one of those phone calls.

That morning when my phone rang, I stood in our kitchen drinking coffee, looking out our back window, admiring the day, enjoying the sunshine. And then I answered the phone, and heard those words: ‘Dad, I’m alright. I wasn’t hurt. I was driving with the trailer behind me when I came to a very long, steep hill. About half way down, I had a blowout. I lost control of the van, swerving back and forth before I jackknifed and rolled the van two or three times I think. While it was happening, I didn’t think it would ever stop rolling.’ He went on and on about the violence of the scene, where he was, where he would be spending the night, and then a question: “Do you think you could come get me, because the van is totaled?”

He hardly had time to hang up the phone, before the sound of our car leaving our driveway could be heard in our neighborhood. My wife and I drove throughout the morning and well into the night before we arrived at the hotel where my son was staying. So glad to see him. Go grateful he was safe. Who cared about the van? Who gave a minute’s thought to the trailer and its contents. No worries. He was safe and that’s all that mattered.

I hadn’t thought of that phone call in several years. But this week, I had occasion to be in the neighborhood of that hill, again and remember that call, again. I mentioned it to my wife as we drove along. I said, “I will never forget this hill. This is the hill my son nearly died on. Things totally out his control caused him to weave and swerve, and his life rolled over and over, held by a thread thin as any spider has ever woven.”

And as I remembered my son, and that hill where he nearly died, I thanked God for another hill, and I wondered. I wondered if, when God looks at that awful hill where Jesus died, he thinks of that call he got from his boy. The one that started, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Any father could easily have been mistaken those words for a plea to be rescued. One of those “Could you come and get me?” calls. Except, that Son’s suffering wasn’t accidental. It was intentional. And the violence of that intentional dying act was sufficient for the sins of the entire world.

You may have received ‘one of those calls’ from one of your kids sometime in the past. You may even have your own special ‘hill’ or setting that you remember. As you reflect on the goodness of God this Sunday morning, may you be reminded again about Calvary. That hill of violence where the Son of God didn’t ‘lose control’ of His life. He willingly submitted to a death that rescued men from the awfulness of their sin and separation from God.

Ps. 103:

But from everlasting to everlasting

the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,

and his righteousness with their children’s children—

with those who keep his covenant

and remember to obey his precepts.

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