My name is Andrew Gibson, husband of Leann and father to Joshua, Luke, Reuben and Kerryn. I have been a PE teacher for the last 16 years and am currently on a career break serving as site pastor in Christian Fellowship Church Holywood.
Leaving the hospital with our new born baby boy in a Graco car seat, struggling to get it fixed into place in our car, and inwardly wondering how has this actually happened was my first memory of Fatherhood. I couldn’t actually believe that I was now responsible (along with my wife Leann) for this helpless little bundle of noise. As we placed him in his Moses basket in our living room, and turned on TV to watch Prison Break at a much lower volume than usual, life and indeed box set viewing would never be the same again!
I remember one night at 4am in front of our gas fire, sitting on our rocking chair after he had been fed and just staring at him. I hadn’t read my Bible in a while, hadn’t prayed, and God started to just speak ever so quietly to me about being a son and being a father. God showed me that it wasn’t my effort that made me a son, it was just who I was. As Joshua lay in my arms, fully my son, and fully at ease, God spoke over me and said rest in me, you are my son. There was no striving from Joshua to be my son, it was just who he was, his sonship wouldn’t change, and my love for him as a Father wouldn’t change. The love of the Father talked about by Jesus in the parable of the Prodigal Son, that running toward, embracing, accepting love, suddenly was no longer contained by words on a page but was alive and active in my life.
Joshua was soon joined by Luke and Reuben, and these three boys filled the space in our house quickly and messily! Their energy levels seemed to have no bounds, whereas mine certainly did and there was a great disparity between the two. Sometimes the responsibility of raising these boys, caring for them, teaching them and loving them felt overwhelming for Leann and I. Days would inevitably end with an exhausted head hitting a wonderful, soft and much appreciated pillow. Despite the tiredness and busyness of it all, God’s strength and help was felt and experienced as a reality rather than an abstract concept. So much of what I read to be true as a younger man before Fatherhood about his strength being made perfect in our weakness, was now believed to be true from a place of experience and presence.
When our fourth child was born, reliance on God and I suppose faith in general was tested, probed and prodded on another level. Kerryn was born with Down Syndrome, which came as a shock to us all and suddenly the future and uncertainty became closely aligned. Pictures were painted by medical staff of a daughter that may not walk, not talk, have heart problems, hearing problems, sight issues and so on and so on. There was definite pain in the night, but as the Psalmist also wrote, joy comes in the morning. For me the faithfulness and sovereignty of God that I always loved reading about in the book of Job, suddenly took on a reality that actually had to mean something in my everyday. Kerryn is now 8, doing junior park run, singing in the school choir, attending GB and going to the primary school her brothers went to - joy does indeed come in the morning. My role as a Father is still sometimes daunting, difficult and draining, but I am so glad that we have a heavenly father who gets that, understands me and has everything I need for the call he has for me.