As you know, we named you after my dear grandma Mac when I was halfway through my pregnancy. So, you were Max for about five months before you were even born. This is a thread in your life that connects you to a woman you only met once, but who shaped me, loved your dad and consequently shaped you.
Your first years were a mixture of tumultuous and steadfast. When you were 18 months old, your dad had been in three different jobs and you had already lived in four place plus we were at Aunt Diane's often enough to call it a fifth home. Amidst all those changes, you and I spent every single day together. We rode out the changes in stride. You knew your parents loved you and were there for you always. I am so thankful for this thread of constancy we have been able to give you because I stayed home. Without the steadfast provision, support and leadership of your dad, your entire life would be different. This thread is something we can almost ignore because it spans your entire life and there is no comparing it to its opposite: I was always home, thanks be to God and your dad.
You were a sweet kid. You had energy and a sense of humor. You were sensitive and intelligent. You had obsessions and cared to be precise, something that seemed odd for a kid who could not yet speak clearly. You would become so frustrated when we would imitate your pronunciation in the hopes of guessing your meaning. These are the threads God wove into your being before you were even born. They are precious and make you you.
When Madi came, you added to your personhood the role of brother. Big brother. So many people warned me about rivalry and jealousy. It was assumed you two would fight and have nothing in common since you were boy and girl. Well, didn't you prove them all wrong! You were the best big brother from the very first time you met. You were careful & attentive; you shared with and delighted in her. She was your baby sister and you never looked back. Another thread hooked into the fabric of your life as though it had always been there.
That is when you and I began to school. We did it our way. No one schooled quite like we did, but it was perfect for us. You loved to learn and you loved stories. As long as you were allowed to wiggle up one wall and down the other, you were golden. Again, there were nay-sayers who thought I was making up your accomplishments since they could not understand what you were saying and could not believe anyone moving as much as you did could retain anything being said. But I knew. Daddy knew. God knew. Aunt Diane knew. Grandpa Danny knew. The threads of your academic accomplishments are beautiful and unique.
Speaking of Aunt Diane, she was the one who first said you would make your life all about words. She believed that the challenge in talking made you a peerless communicator. God wastes nothing. He works all things for your good. The challenges in speech Diane knew were part of the beautiful tapestry God was creating to be your life.
You didn't always fit in with kids your age. You couldn't always make people understand you. These struggles meant you didn't mock people who were different. And you didn't need people to be exactly like you to connect with them. More threads included that make you tender, approachable and open-minded.
You did at least 16 years of school in twelve. I don't even know how to calculate the time you spent at college while wrapping up your high school years. These threads of academics, learning, hard work and time well spent give strength and shape to the fabric of your life. You have the proven ability to persevere, give your best and go the extra mile.
I am going to break with the thread analogy for a moment. Max, you are capable of so much. You have accomplished so much. You are amazing. But all that has gone before was just the training ground. It mattered. Believe me, it mattered!! Can you imagine soldiers facing a battle without having been through boot camp? Remember what the author of The Outliers said about all the people who are success stories? They could never have done what they did without the thousands of hours in training.
You trained well. But training is made worthless if training is all there is. Fifty thousand hours of piano practice is pointless if the pianist never plays. Four sturdy legs are literally firewood without the board to make the table. So what comes next for you is what matters now.
I am eager to see what you do with these 18 years. I pray with all my heart you press deeply into the Holy Spirit and breathe in His companionship and guidance. I hope you share yourself with the world God brings you to. Banish fear from the driver's seat. Kick laziness to the curb. Keep the slate clean by regular confession and honest relationships with people who will love you enough to hold you accountable. You are far too valuable to waste and I think fear and lazy are two enemies who lust to lay you flat.
You leave in a week to your first job, first time away from home, first independent ministry. It is mind boggling to think of what you are engaging in this summer. New people, new challenges, new accomplishments, new skills, new wins.
I know you will mess up. But, you are like David, who God called a man after His heart. I know you take good care of your conscience, which takes good care of you. You will handle the mistakes with immediacy, honesty and humility. And that will be another win.
So far, there is a beautiful tapestry made of countless threads representing people, books, experiences, fears and dreams. But what has been woven so far is merely a framework for what comes next. It is like the straight edges in a puzzle, we can see the border. You get to fill in the middle, the real picture. You get to decide how the frame will relate to the subject, the message, your life. I can hardly wait to see what you make.
I love you, Max. Forever and for always.