Father’s Day is a time of celebration of fathers. For many of us it is a time to honor the man who gave us life and raised us to be who we are. For some of us it is time to wonder what our real father was like. We may have no memory of our dad because he died when we were so young or he deserted the family or he deserted our birth mom before we were even born. Still some of us may have more than one dad because we have a relationship with our birth dad and a step-dad who lives in our home with our mother. Whatever situation you are in I hope that you have a good dad, a nice dad, and one that cares about you. Today I want to honor my Dad by telling you about his life and impact upon me.
My Dad was a hard-working man and he always put his family first before his own needs. He made certain that we had clothes to wear, food to eat, a home to live in, and a car to drive. Dad didn’t ask for much for himself and he only owned two books in his lifetime, a Bible and a book on repairing automobiles. Dad was a simple man, not complicated nor high-maintenance.
Before Dad became a Christian he sewed some wild oats. He drank beer from childhood not because he liked the taste but because he had uncles who were a few years older than he was and they drank beer and gave it to him. These teenage uncles of my Dad thought it was funny to see him drunk and so they gave him beer. These same uncles nick-named my Dad “Snorts” because he would become angry very quickly. He had quite a temper as a youth and young man I have been told. I asked my Dad one time what made him give up drinking since he came from a family that loved to drink alcohol and it was such a part of their everyday life. He said it was a trip to Arizona that caused him to realize that he had a problem with alcohol and needed to stop drinking. I asked him what was so special about this trip and he said that he woke up in a railroad boxcar somewhere in the middle of Arizona and had no memory of how he got there. The last thing he remembered he was in Minnesota and out drinking with some friends. He decided that the black-out was a wake-up call that he needed to stop running with those friends and stop drinking as well. Shortly after that he met my Mom and she hated drinking and so he gave it up. I only saw him drink half a can of beer once in my life and I was so shocked that he had accepted that beer from his brother because at the time I never knew that he had ever drank or had a history of drinking. He didn’t want his children to drink because he saw the dangers first hand of how alcoholism ran in his family. He wanted better for us than to be addicted to alcohol. I admired that about him.
Dad also smoked cigarettes. He said that he never enjoyed smoking but just smoked cigarettes because every other man he knew smoked them. At the time that I was born both my parents smoked cigarettes. My Mom loved the smell and enjoyed smoking but my Dad said that he didn’t enjoy it. He became a Christian and realized that he didn’t want to smoke anymore so he quit a fifteen year habit by simply never taking a cigarette to smoke again. I admired his strength to quit.
What I remember most about my Dad, though, is his large, strong, capable, and caring hands. His fingers were so large that he outgrew his wedding band and my Mom had to have a special size ordered for him. I think it was a size fourteen or sixteen ring. I saw his large fingers and big hands so tenderly comfort a tiny baby with a stomach ache. I saw those hands work until they cracked and bled. I saw those mighty hands do CPR on my only brother and get breath back into his lungs only to tremble in anguish when God took that same son from this earth. I saw those hands reach out and take my Mom’s small hand and together they prayed for comfort after my brother died and after my sister died. I saw those strong and capable hands take care of me after surgery far too many times for me to count. I saw those hands ever so gently cradle my first-born, second born, third born, and adopted fourth with such love. He was the best Grandpa! Not so much in his words but by the way he lived his life. I saw those strong hands pick up the Bible and read it on an almost daily basis and often he read it to me, to our family as we were growing up. His hands in my memory are a symbol of strength, vitality, hard work, love, compassion, and security. I always felt secure when I was holding my Daddy’s hands. I saw those hands age but they never gave way to weakness. I miss those hands because I greatly miss my Dad.
Daddy’s hands were as big as his heart. He had so much compassion for those who struggled with life. He would come alongside his brother who was out of work and make certain that there was food for the children to eat and clothes and shoes and school money. He would help his brother find work where he worked and kept his brother on the straight and narrow path in life. He would come alongside struggling Bible College students and repair their car, pay for tires, pay for a tank of gas, pay for books, and make certain that my Mom had sent them home with extra food. He would listen to farmers and help pastors and encourage so many in whatever way they needed help. He would help my Mom in later years as they took care of foster-children and then after retiring together they opened a daycare and welcomed little children whose parents needed to work have a safe and loving place for their children. My Dad was not much for talking but he sure made a lot of people admire him for his good deeds. I admired that about my Dad.
My Dad wasn’t much of a conversationalist and yet some of the most interesting conversations I have ever participated in were with my Dad. He knew and understood the Bible well and I miss those Sunday afternoon conversations with him and Mom. I learned so much from my Dad. I learned how to drive, how to work hard, how to be humble, how to appreciate what I have and not desire more. I learned unconditional love from my Dad too and to never give up on a wayward person because God never gives up on them. I learned from my Dad that I am no better than anyone else in this world. I learned to love God with my everything. I learned to love my family no matter who they are or what they may have done. I learned to be loyal and honest and trustworthy from my Dad. I learned to give a helping hand to those who are in need of some help and to encourage those who need encouragement. But most of all I learned from my Dad that all that I own is not really mine, only borrowed for a while from God who owns everything and to be a good steward of that property.
My Mom used to say to us children as we entered our teenage years that our Dad may not have given us much in worldly goods but he did give us a good last name, his name, and that his name brought with it a good reputation. She would tell us to keep that name good. I would say that my Dad gave me so much more than a good last name, he gave me life, he gave me a Christian heritage, and he gave me God’s love. I am so blessed to have had him as my Father.
If you have a Dad that isn’t so honest or doesn’t have much love shown toward you I would like to encourage you that there is another Dad who loves you. There is a Dad that wants you to be his child. There is a Dad that wants to teach you everything that is good and pure and lovely. There is a Dad with might hands that wants to cradle you in them, that wants to spread his protection over you and surround you with unconditional love and grace and mercy. There is a Dad that wants to hear from you and wants to show you things you have never imagined before. That Dad is the same person my Dad got such strength to navigate the rough waters of life. His name is God, the Father, and the only way to know Him is through His Son Jesus Christ.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:7-12, (New International Version or NIV).
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:17-18, (NIV).
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20, (NIV).