Hoops, prayers, dreams… and fatherhood

I remember it so well. It was a brisk day in Southern Indiana – Evansville, to be exact, my hometown.

I was in eighth grade, and was alone, shooting hoops on the outdoor basketball court behind my schoolyard. For whatever reason, no one was around that late afternoon. I was alone on the court, and in my thoughts. 

And they were happy thoughts! 

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I can’t explain why, but I began to dream that day… about a day when I might be blessed to have a son with whom to shoot baskets. I had grown up with a dad who did that very thing with me.  In fact, he was always there – at every Little League game, and at every event in my life that mattered. 

That always meant the world to me. 

Later, when I was a guitarist in a band, my dad and mom drove all over the place to just be there to support me.  No doubt, that was just amazing to me, even then. I never knew life to be any different than having my parent’s complete love and support.

So there I was…daydreaming about – of all things – the day that I might have a son of my own, and promising the Lord that if He would bless me that way, I would do my very best to be with him, to support him in the same way as my parents had supported me.  

Fast-forward 16 years, to 1983.  My wife Cindy and I had already been blessed with an amazing daughter, one that was the apple of our eyes. But we had also lost a child – my first son – a year earlier.  That heartbreaking time did a lot in my life, more than can be contained in this post. But it did not rob me of hope or of the vision that was born in my heart on that breezy Indiana afternoon so long ago.  

Then, in late August ’83, we were blessed with our son David.  And wouldn’t you know it, he grew up sharing my passion for sports (especially basketball), and also for music. 

Our years in the ‘80s and ‘90s were spent amazingly just like I dreamed they would be – shooting hoops, riding bikes, camping, and then following him around to watch his high school basketball team play.

Add to that years of jamming together, and then – driving all around Florida and beyond, watching David and two of his sisters play music with their own band.

Time has a way of passing…now, David and his beautiful wife are parents to four beautiful children, the last of which was born less than two months ago.  And he was a boy… joining David’s two other boys, and his beautiful daughter.

In Psalm 127:4-5 (NIV), it says: 

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior

    are children born in one’s youth.”

Even though they live in Texas, through the wonderful gift of FaceTime, I’m getting to relive that original vision, all over again, watching my son train, love, and dote over his children. Cindy and I will soon be making a visit, to hold that newest grandson in our arms. 

I’ve said it many times, but it is oh so true. Of all the job descriptions I ever held, my favorite by far was being a Dad.  And now, being Grandpa isn’t so bad either.

About the Author

Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers.  In Gainesville, Mike is heard on WTMN – 96.3 FM / 1430 AM. In Ocala, on WRZN – 103.5 FM / 720 AM. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader.  As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.

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