My mother told me my grandmother had said that she hoped I would live to see eighteen. Apparently, there was evidence suggesting the contrary. I’m sure as grandma watched her devil of a grandson, daring the world to come up with something he wouldn’t try, she must have shook her head in fearful disbelief. I think she must have watched from a distance, though, because I never really remember being around grandma very much. I’m not sure if it was because I was too busy, running from one adventure to the next; or if it was the wisdom of her years that kept her from standing too close to where the lightning might strike next.

What my mother’s perspective of me was like while I was growing up, I can only imagine. It’s a wonder the gray hairs did not come sooner than they did. Whereas I would say that my older brother and younger sister gave her a crown of motherly glory; I gave her the lumps upon which her crown would rest. God blessed her with the joys of motherhood, and with my help, He gave her character—at least, I like to see it that way. I think if I were to ask her, she just might agree. On second thought, I think she just might drop her eyes to the ground, shake her head, and slowly walk away.

Slowly walk away—now that was something I should have done more often. But those insatiable urges overcame me. I would simply be going about my day, minding my own business, then boom! A brilliant idea would pop into my head. What was a boy to do? There were just far too many wonderful things to learn. Things like: target arrows will penetrate garage windows, aluminum trashcans, and older brother’s model ships; playing with a tether ball attached to a close line can result in a rope burn around the neck; and building a makeshift arc welder and using it in your bedroom can cut power to pretty much the entire house. Blankets do not make good parachutes. Bonfires are bad ideas indoors. Tire chains on a car do not make it a snowmobile. And gerbils will not appreciate being spun on a record player at 78 rpm no matter how hard you try to make it resemble an amusement park ride. Gasoline ignites quickly. Cutting rope with a kitchen knife is best done with the blade facing away from you. And police may know more about what you’ve been up to than you think.

Besides the headaches I gave my mother, I would be remiss if I forgot the fear I stirred in her. The fear, perhaps, that grandma’s worries I wouldn’t make it to eighteen could come true. I would have to say it is amazing she ever let me out of her sight. But I have to thank God that she did. While she was learning motherly lessons raising me, I had my own life lessons to learn—some were harder to learn than others.

Sometime ago, in a Christian bookstore, I picked up one of those little cards that tell you the meaning of your name. My name has a double meaning; it means both protector, and protected. As I look back and remember the close calls—most of them involving my ’78 Plymouth Furry—there is no doubt in my heart that I am protected. God has seen me through.

I passed eighteen over thirty years ago—due mostly to the prayers of my parents and grandmother I’m certain. I really do not know just how many times God has intervened on my behalf. I have had lessons learned the easy way, and lessons learned the hard way. Some of them I’d like to forget. Some of them I will never be allowed to forget as they still make for fun conversation topic when the family comes together. But all of them have become to me a treasure, reminding me each day Whose child I am, and of my Father’s hand of protection that continues to keep me safe.