Da-Da, daddy, father, pops, dad, even Pa. Sounds lovingly woven together to signify and represent all there is to know about a father; the men in our lives we go to for advice, for truth, for wisdom, for love, for protection, for provision. Our fathers are bound to us by blood or purely out a loving heart with the capacity for more. Our fathers have come before us, they have wounds and scars and love won and lost, and time. Time to learn, to live, to share with us the good and the bad. To teach us if we are teachable. To form us if we formable. To love us in their way if we are lovable.
I have asked for stories, for words that speak to the men our fathers are. I will attempt to share these beautiful words. As you read, you may resonate with similar remembrances of your own father or find yourself wishing yours was more like those described here. Please remember, imperfection abounds, do-overs are abundant, and our Father God’s love covers it all.
Integrous, bold, brave, gentle, loving, Godly, trustworthy, strong, non-compromising, an advocate, tough. Only a handful of words a son used to describe his father, home now with the Father. Memories of driving an embarrassingly old car that ushered countless people to church, visited a shut-in, or served in any way possible. Days long gone that are a treasure, found in the youthful memory of a father of five. His father, “understood who he was representing for his entire life.” The legacy he left, now understood, now remembered for what it always was. “Only what’s done for God will last,” said this pastor and father. He lived with conviction and imparted it to his children and all that he touched.
A mother asks her young son, “What reminds you of dad?”
He replies in typical 9 year old fashion, “Hockey reminds me of daddy because he use to play it, and he loves it.”
She asks again, “What do you like to do when you’re together?”
In a little boy voice, he answers, “I like it when we eat ice cream together and play catch with the football and play pond hockey.”
Finally, mom asks,”Can you think of anything else to describe your daddy?”
With a little thought and squirmyness over all the questions he says, “He is funny, very smart, and he loves Jesus and God.”
You see, a father shares his love of sport, food and savior. Our little ones hear it, they see it being lived out in a father’s touch, in his words, and in his laughter and enjoyment of God’s gifts.
There are stories of fathers reading books, sometimes the same one over and over again, playing catch in the backyard until mosquitoes drove all for cover, working two jobs to make ends meet, and watching and cheering at every activity known to man.There are stories of fathers who put others first, sacrificing their own needs to see other needs fulfilled. There are stories of fathers who slipped, who made mistakes, who would give anything to change a moment that changed everything. There are stories of redemption, of forgiveness, of a great love that knows no boundaries. A fathers love for us. Whether we know our earthly father deeply or don’t have any memory at all, we do have a heavenly One that first gave us life, breath, and our true identities.
And so because of our deep need for connection we miss our dads when they are gone. A friend told me, “I miss him every single day. My parents divorced when I was in 6th grade, and I soon moved in with my dad. We weathered the middle school years together and in that time I saw God working within him like I never had seen before. I saw my dad in very vulnerable states as he grieved the divorce and later my brother’s death. Over the years, I saw him wrestle the loss of my brother and go through each stage of grieving. I know he was angry and hurt at God. We serve a merciful God who waited until my dad came back to Him to mercifully take him home with Him. My dad’s life has taught me many things, most importantly the power of prayer and the amazing gift of mercy. He is so good.”
Our Father is indeed, a good, good Father. With grateful hearts and love-full, we thank Him for the earthly dads he’s given us. For the moments and memories that fill our minds and have helped shaped us into the people we are today, for the people we are still becoming, ever closer to the heart and mind of our first Father.
Thanks Dad. I love you.