Father’s Day for many is a difficult day. For some it is a time when a fresh wound of grief is opened as they remember the dad they once had on this earth. For some the wound of abandonment, abuse, neglect, or just deep disappointment is opened. While for others, Father’s Day is a fun day of celebrating all the good in their dad.
As I sit on the back porch of Rocky Top today here are some key traits that I celebrate in all the dads who have been or are in my life. None of these dads were or are perfect. Yet, each exhibits character qualities which flow from their relationship with Christ.
- Cherisher When I asked someone what you call a person who just adores or cherishes his kids, the word “cherisher” was used. I had never heard of this word and it sounded odd. Yet, I have seen this trait so clearly in one of my son-in-loves. He totally cherishes his girls. He adores them. His eyes light up when he talks about them, when he sees them, when he holds them. He treasures them dearly.
“The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his treasured possession.” Deuteronomy 7:6
- Instructor My grandson had swimming lessons last year and by the end of the summer he had no fear of the water. Unfortunately, as this summer began he struggled. He would only sit on the steps of the pool UNTIL his dad got in the water with him. His dad began to instruct him. He even made up a funny song to help him. I watched as his dad patiently coached him, gently reminding him of all the skills he had learned the previous summer. He never yelled or screamed. He demonstrated the skills and gently led him.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8
- Adventurer This is Preacher. One of the favorite sayings in our home, “You may have a bad day but you will never have a boring day if you are following hard after Christ.” Everything was an adventure to our kids when they were with their dad. Whether he was sitting on the couch reading Chronicles of Narnia, learning how to scuba dive with sharks (yes, he took our 14 year old son diving with sharks) or going on a mission trip to the Middle East or Africa, life was an adventure. Preacher wanted to make sure that all of our kids knew that following Jesus is the most exciting adventure of their lives.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20
- Builder Papa Avant was a builder. Professionally, he was an engineer, but his life was summed up in the word “builder” by his children and grandchildren at his funeral. Papa built things and fixed things. Our son’s first memory of his Papa was him fixing our mail box. Papa made music boxes and treasure chests. He made things that had meaning. However, the most important things Papa built were his family and his church. He built a family who knew that success was not defined by material wealth but by serving Christ and others. In his later years, he was a part of a church plant, where he was known for his deep wisdom.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” I Thessalonians 5:11
“I will build them up and not tear them down….I will give them a heart to know me…” Jeremiah 24:6-7
- Victor My dad was a very flawed man and he was not a good father. He did not know his own father. When I was 16, my dad divorced my mom, and in the subsequent twenty years he was married three more times. Dad was focused on himself until his life began to fall apart. In February of 1996, dad called and said he was on a business trip in Atlanta. He informed me that his fourth wife was about to leave him, he was about to be laid off and was close to bankruptcy. I began to pray because Preacher just “happened” to be in Atlanta and was preaching at a church that night. Dad promised me he would go hear him even though he had never heard him preach. After praying for my dad for thirty years, that February night my dad responded to the love of Christ and became a new man. For the next nine years, my dad grew in his faith. He became a passionate dad and grandfather. At his funeral, students that he taught made comments such as “Your dad was like a father to me.” “Your dad was a good man.” My dad didn’t start well. He did finish well.
He became a victor. Anyone can begin a race, it is a victor who finishes well.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the righteous Judge will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” II Timothy 4:7-8
No matter how good or bad you perceive your earthly father to be, my prayer is that today you celebrate the Father who cherishes you, instructs you, brings you on adventure, builds you up, or causes you to be victorious because HE IS A GOOD, GOOD FATHER!