For as long as I can remember I have idolized my dad. My mom would bring us to church when we were kids, but I never wanted to be there because dad wasn’t. I would rather have been home, doing yard work and watching sports with him. When I finally became receptive to the gospel and eventually came to faith, it was only because my dad had started going to church and was headed down the same path. If church was something my dad was doing, then I was going to give it chance.
I’m still not sure how, but my dad somehow managed to work crazy long hours in order to earn enough money to provide us with all the advantages he didn’t have as a kid growing up in a large family, yet still have time to spend with us and make us feel loved. I remember my dad leaving for work early and coming home late, but he was never an absentee father. I’m sure that he sacrificed sleep and time for himself to make sure that he didn’t sacrifice time with us. All of my best memories as a kid revolve around my dad: playing football in the front yard, vacations in New Hampshire and Ocean City, MD, opening copious amounts of presents on Christmas without ever even having to make a Christmas list because dad always managed to pick out exactly what we wanted.
My dad has even managed to be a great father not only to his own kids, but to anyone else who needed one. We had foster children in our home when I was little. A friend of mine in elementary school lived with us for a few months while his parents went through a messy divorce. My 3 best friends in high school were all without a father in the home so my dad always welcomed them in to ours. And most importantly, he has always treated my wife, who does not have a relationship with her father, as his own daughter, making no differentiation between her, and my siblings, and me.
As my siblings and I have passed into adulthood, he has continued to be a source of protection and support, helping us establish our own niche in the world, supporting us through tough times and being the best grandfather possible for my son, niece, and nephews. I find that I still filter almost every situation in life through the lens of how my dad would handle it. And every situation is easier to face knowing that I can run back to my dad if I handle it incorrectly.
I’ve never had trouble viewing God as a heavenly Father because he gave me an earthly father that modeled his provision, protection and correction for me. I’ve had other great influences in my life in pastors and teachers, but my dad has had a bigger impact on the man I’ve become than any pastor or teacher ever could.
Today is the 28th Father’s Day I’ve spent with my dad (the only one I missed was the year I spent in Russia), and it’s strange to think that future Father’s Days will probably pass with phone calls or Skype conversations instead of time together. As I head out on my own, for really the first time in my life, my greatest earthly ambition is to be a husband, father, and worker that my dad can be proud of and that measures up to the tremendous standard he set.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you, and I’ll miss you more than I can say!