I had a good father. He taught me how to save money and to love words. He was a small-town newspaper editor who wore cardigans and caps and garnered the respect of all who knew him. If it’s true that we picture God somewhat like our fathers, then mine gave me the impression that God was a bit distant, a little funny, had high expectations and loved children. I feared his disapproval, but never had to fear anything else from him. Not a bad combination.
I know that I baffled and disappointed my father because I chose a life of faith, but one thing I did right in his eyes was bring a good man home to meet him. Oh, and I gave him grandchildren. He loved his grandbabies.
I miss my father this father’s day. This is my 20th year without him. The longer I live the more I have come to understand how his experiences formed the man I knew: born at the end of World War 1, graduating college in the Great Depression, drafted to Iceland in World War 2. He lived through the nuclear age, civil rights, hippies and LSD, and Watergate. He saw the invention of television and computers. He brought us outside to look at the moon on the day men first stepped on its surface and scoffed at the invention of pocket calculators.
Dad was a proud ninth-generation American, the first to leave the tiny town in Maine his ancestors founded four hundred years ago, moving all the way across the country to sunny California. There he met, wooed and married my mother in the span of six weeks. He was the same age when they married that I was when he died.
I’m grateful for my dad this week, for the lessons he taught me and the expectations he set. For his chuckle and his devotion to family. For passing down to me his big feet and his love of reading.
I also have a Heavenly Father. He is teaching me what love is and what love does. He takes delight in children and in childlike faith. He is never distant and the holy awe I have for Him never tips into dread. He’s a little funny (giraffes anyone?) and continues to provide for me even when I insist on going my own way.
The longer I live, the more I have come to understand Him. How He has weathered millennia of rejection and yet perseveres in His pursuit of each individual heart. How my life is a vapor compared to the limitless span of history and future that is His. And yet – He sees me. I’m amazed at the lengths He was willing to go to adopt me into His family just so that we can be together.
I have had two fathers: one who did his best and one who gave His best. How very, very grateful I am.