A letter to my son on the occasion of his 18th birthday.
It might seem a weird present to give from a father to a son- a towel. But it is the symbolism that is important, along with the Bible verse I have placed on it.
A microfibre towel as a symbol? What could that possibly mean for you on your 18th?
- Psalm 51
Have a read of this chapter. It is very powerful and talks about being CLEAN before God. Despite all the garbage that is in our life, despite the many mistakes we make, despite who we are when we really think about who we really are, our desire should be to be CLEAN before God. Our cry is for God to get rid of the old person and make us CLEAN and new. We cry out to God to never turn his face from us, despite who we really are. A towel will only get rid of the surface dirt or dry the water already on us, it won’t clean the heart.
Psalm Chapter 51
2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
7 Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit[d] from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
An interesting fabric is microfibre. Microfibre is used to make mats, knits, and weaves for apparel, upholstery, industrial filters, and cleaning products. The shape, size, and combinations of synthetic fibres are selected for specific characteristics, including softness, toughness, absorption, water repellence, electrostatics, and filtering capabilities.
The shape and size of the material defines what the microfibre is used for. The combination of the materials gives it special characteristics.
Think about you. Your body. Your personality. Your character. Who are you and who are you becoming? What type of man are you and becoming? What type of friend or mate will you be? What type of boyfriend, husband and father will you be? What will your body be used for?
Using your body shape and size (and yes, your speed!) for God’s glory and the benefit of others will be what others see.
But what will be the specific characteristics of you?
The characteristics of microfibre could help you build your character.
- Softness- this is not a sign of weakness. This can be a strong point. Show your emotions. Never deny who you are. Laugh with those who laugh; Weep with those who weep. Be vulnerable.
- Toughness- you have to be a man. You have to make tough decisions. You have to not let ANYONE walk over you and dictate your thoughts, actions or desires. Tough decisions sometimes hurt people to begin with, but they will respect you for the decision you will make. Do not be doubleminded- Let your YES be YES and your NO be NO.
- Absorption- allow God to renew and transform your mind. Absorb his presence and influence on your life. Ask for your thoughts to be His thoughts. See the world how Jesus saw the world.
- Water Repellence- allow the muck and garbage of the world not to stick to you. Be someone who repels and flees from evil. You will hear, see and know evil, but it will never stick to you.
- Electrostatic- Electrostatics involves the build up of charge onthe surface of objects due to contact with other surfaces. Although charge exchange happens whenever any two surfaces contact and separate, the effects of charge exchange are usually only noticed when at least one of the surfaces has a high resistance to electrical flow. This is because the charges that transfer are trapped there for a time long enough for their effects to be observed.
Do not let things to stick to you for too long. But allow your personality to bring a charge to others. You need to be an influencer, not be influenced by anyone. Let your charge stay with people long after you have met or dealt with them. You can do this by your words AND your actions. Charge other people up.
- Filtering capabilities- Your mind is your filter. Keep the good stuff, filter out the bad stuff. Guard your mind and heart from the influence of others, movies, music, games and what the world offers as a good time. It doesn’t mean to shut yourself off from the world but know what this stuff will do to you if you have too much.
I found this excellent piece about the symbolic nature of a towel.
On the night Jesus would be betrayed and arrested he took off his outer robe and put on the servant’s role to fulfill a custom of hospitality. He picked up the servant’s towel and tied it around himself. One by one he washed the disciples’ feet, not feet protected by shoes and socks, but feet largely exposed to the dirt and muck that filled first-century roads. He wiped their feet with that likely well-worn towel. The experience was not easy for all of them. We know Peter protested, but could it have been any easier for the others? For Judas, who knew he was going to betray Jesus? For James and John, who struggled with their idea of power and wanted to sit on his right and left in glory? After all those feet, how dirty that towel must have been when Jesus finished.
Jesus called his disciples to pick up the towel and become servants to others, even those who would betray them. He still calls us today to take up our towels and clean away the messiest stuff of life for those in need. If we strive to follow his example, we should wade into any situation, no matter how ugly or messy, to help. By doing so, we act as his hands, feet, eyes and voice, offering his hope and compassion.
- Travel/Sports towel
I picked out this type of towel for the two things that matter to you at the moment. Your willingness to travel and your sport. Whatever happens after this year, you know I will always be cheering you from the sideline. In your sport, in your travel and in your life. Keep striving to reach a goal with your football, but love and enjoy the game for the rest of your life. I think you have to decide very soon the type of player you want to be and what you want out of your career. Where are you prepared to go? The travel may become part of your career, or it will be the thing you do for leisure if you realise you can’t make a career out of football.
I am so proud of the man you have become and the man you will be. You have continued to show so much potential, but you do not want to spend your life with the label “potential”. If the football career is going to work out, then pursue it with everything you’ve got. If you want to have a great wife, family, friends and life, then pursue it with everything you’ve got.
If you want to have a relationship with God, then pursue it with everything you’ve got. I became a Christian when I was 17 and this chapter was one of the first things I read.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 12
1 Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”
6 Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young…7 For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
God Bless you my son. Me and Mum love you more than anything. We will always be there for you, no matter what life throws at you. We will always be there ready to chat and help you.
NOTE: 2 weeks after my son was given this letter and the towel, he was tackled in a game of football (soccer) and broke his tibia- a 6-12 month rehabilitation is expected.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found at