There is something amazing about our relationship with our dads. We go through that era as a younger child, especially if you are of the male gender, when the common thought is, “My dad is bigger, stronger or can whip your dad.” Then we tend to go through some period of life when we look at our dad as being an embarrassment to us. it may be anything from them having some habit that seems to set them apart from other dads or your friend’s dads or them showing too much affection toward you in public. We tend to go through a time when we see everything that our dad did as being wrong, mistaken and something we want to avoid as we grow up. It isn’t at all uncommon for a boy, especially to say as they are growing up, “I’ll never do things like my dad.” It may be everything from how they discipline us to how they treat our mom. Usually at about this same period of life we can give a whole long list of things our dad got wrong in his life.
But, as the years roll by, our views of our dad tend to change. So many of the things we felt sure were wrong before now seem pretty smart and perhaps the best way of doing things. We tend to catch ourselves saying to our own children the very things that we once thought were so awful when our dad said them to us. Far too often it is after our dads have died that we suddenly begin to think of all the things we misunderstood about them or just plain got wrong about them. Someone has said that it is phenomenal how much smarter our dads become between our twenty-fifth birthday and our fortieth birthday.
My dad has been dead for almost forty years now. As the youngest of eight children he was almost forty when I came into the world so the dad I knew was likely very different from the dad that my older brothers and sisters knew. But there are common matters we would all say of him. Today, I am remembering things about him that have made a positive difference in my own life. I would suggest that it would be worthwhile for everyone, if you knew or know your dad at all to think back on some things that you remember that have made a positive difference in your life, your heart and your actions in the world.
Dad was a lover of God, of my mom, and of us as his children. His devotion to God was beyond question. As long as I remember he was a preacher. He was constantly trying to learn more about the Bible and to live by what he learned. It was common to see him early in the morning or late in the evening sitting with his Bible in his lap searching for God’s will in everything. He loved to sing praise to God and not just with a crowd of people. When he was working he was singing, and I don’t think it ever mattered whether anyone was listening or not. He sang in quartets, led singing schools, and just sang with his whole being. He was certainly a man of prayer. He would bow before the Lord at the table, in the gatherings of people to worship and in the woods or barn when he had no idea that anyone could see him. I have no doubt that his devotion to God made a huge difference in the lives of his children, mine included.
Dad enjoyed family and wanted to be around them. He overflowed with life when everyone could gather. He might well want to spend some of that time together singing praise to God. But he would enjoy the laughter and be in the middle of the conversation. I remember those times when he played basketball or baseball with us. Some of my special memories with dad were times when we walked through the woods or out in the field and he told stories of his life growing up. I suspect that I picked up from him the immense joy of being around family and sharing things about life with each other.
Dad would go to all lengths to help anyone he knew or even knew about that was struggling. He was a constant visitor at the local hospital and would even visit every room in the little hospital there. His care for people in tough times probably explains why in the last several years of his life he either preached or sang at over a hundred funerals each year. I remember far too many times when he was taken in by someone who gave him a sad story and he believed it, which led to him giving them money or whatever else the need was to take care of them. Too many times he would later learn and be frustrated to know it was a scam. He had a big heart and it was easy for him to cry with those in trouble. He believed that Jesus teaching about the Good Samaritan was a vital lesson for him and all of us to learn and imitate.
Could I list things about my dad that were not good? Certainly, just as my own children can about me. But I choose today to think about the things about him that I admire, love and want to imitate in life. It is a great time as Father’s Day approaches to remember and honor your dad.