Yesterday was Father’s Day. When I think of fathers, I always think of my own, for obvious reasons. I remember his tenderness, tears, love and prayers. I remember the gentle way he always made it okay to be weak or wounded and needing some consolation, yet never allowed me to indulge in self-pity. I remember the way he diverted my attention from my suffering to better things or told me to pick myself up and start over when I fell or failed. He loved to infuse tense moments with humor and was quick with a smile or hug. He was always willing to listen, offer wisdom where he had it and pray for wisdom where he lacked it. He taught me to pray and search God’s Word for answers.
My father taught me Scripture instead of just telling me what to do. He would give me gentle reminders like these as befit the occasion:
James 1:19-20 “…But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” Anger is rarely ever helpful, but being quiet long enough to hear someone else’s side can change everything.
1 John 4:20 – “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” If I insist that I DO love God then I better show it by loving my brother. And what is love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” It’s hard not to be rude to the irritating people I live with everyday who can’t see that MY WAY is the BEST WAY…So much for love.
Proverbs 15:1 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Little explanation is needed here.
Reminders such as these were words from my Heavenly Father not just my earthly father, both of whom I desired to please. In fact, there’s no one it would pain me more to hurt or disappoint. My longing to please my earthly father was greater because he did not demand that I please him, but urged me to do right and loved me in spite of myself. He loved me as nearly like my Heavenly Father as I imagine possible.
My father was safe, strong, wise and upright. He was trustworthy and compassionate. He desired good for his children and encouraged us. He modeled selflessness, hard work, generosity, hospitality, and love for God, His Word and His people. He never turned away anyone in need.
What I do not remember of my father is a harsh tone or words, anger or abuse. I do not remember him demanding work from me that he was not willing to do by my side. I do not remember him burdening me with loads too heavy for his own shoulders or too distasteful to be done by him.
I know he wasn’t perfect. He’d have been the first to admit it. He was good at recognizing his failings and also good at apologizing. What I know is that when I read in the Bible that God is patient and long-suffering, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love (Psalm 86:15, Joel 2:13, Nehemiah 9:17, 2 Peter 3:9), I believe it. I believe it because if an earthly father is capable of such things, how much more so a perfect God? Matthew 7:11 says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
As Father’s Day fades away for another year, I want to remember the example of my father every day, parenting as he did; and even more so because he was the visible picture of my Heavenly Father, the Heavenly Father who tells all His children to be like He is.
Colossians 3:12-14 – “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
©Erika Rice 2015