Happy Father’s Day!
In the days before cell phone, internet and Facebook, it was said that the day of the year with the most phone calls home was Mother’s Day and the day with the most “collect” phone calls home was Father’s Day.
I hope you have fond memories of your father today and are honoring him in person or in your memory. It was in God’s perfect plan, before the creation of the universe, that He would orchestrate this world with the family, a father (male), a mother (female) and children; and this is the way He created it and brought it about.
Because that was God’s plan (and still is), it is the only plan that will work and accomplish His will for the natural order of the world. God created the first father, Adam, and he became one of the first sinners and all of the rest of us, coming from him, have his sinful nature (as evidenced that the man who would become the second father was also the first killer).
The Bible is filled with examples of fathers: Noah, Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon and on and on. Each one was a sinner, as was my father and yours (and you and me) and each one had to come face to face with God to accept or reject Him and His commands.
While the Bible is not specifically a “handbook” for fathers or mothers, it is filled with instruction, examples, promises to help them make their extraordinarily important and difficult job “do-able” and to accomplish God’s plan for parenthood: to bring up Godly children (Malachi 2:15).
In God’s plan, for the family to grow and serve Him and others, it would require those necessary elements, a dad, a mom and children … all of whose primary focus was on the Lord. There are just some things that only a man can model and show to his children and the same is true about the women. But we all know our own sinful and wayward hearts and how this world has turned and keeps turning away from God’s plan, headed straight for disaster.
So now we have so many single parent homes, many that do well, many that do not.
And psychologists and sociologists write and speak about the “absent-father” homes and the devastation that this leaves on children. And yet our culture keeps doing all it can to eliminate the God-ordained nuclear family.
Thank God for single mothers and fathers raising their children in church and for the Lord. And thank God for the many “whole” families that are likewise serving God in the church, the family and the neighborhood.
I was truly blessed. I wouldn’t trade when and where and how I grew up for anything. My grandfathers were both railroaders (like most of the people in our town). Hard working, moral, God-fearing and church-going. They were honest and strict and yet loving family-oriented men. They taught my father and mother well.
My dad, I called him Pop (with a lot of respect), grew up well in his family, the third child, second son. After high school came World War II and he joined the Army, rose to the rank of staff sergeant and served in the Pacific Theater where he earned a Purple Heart (his older brother died in the invasion at Enzio).
Following the war, he came home, got a job on the railroad, eventually met my mother. They got married and in 1948 my brother was born, followed in 3 ½ years by me.
By that time, the railroad was laying off so my dad drove a taxi (often being paid with “commodity oatmeal or cheese,” you old-timers know what that was) and he painted houses.
We didn’t have a lot but we always had enough, which is what God promises to those who follow Him.
A church started up a couple of blocks from home and we started attending, though my dad was not yet saved. Thanks to a rough-as-a-cob evangelist who would come to the house after evening revivals and sit around the kitchen table with my dad and drink coffee, the Lord opened my dad’s heart to Himself and dad got saved. Then we, as a family, all got involved in the little church I grew up in.
My dad couldn’t sing, but when there was no one else to do it, he could call out hymn numbers and give announcements and pray. He wasn’t a preacher, but when the preacher would suddenly get sick, dad would read Scripture (which is the most important thing any preacher does in a sermon) and close in prayer. We were at church every time the doors opened.
My dad finally got a good job at the local post office, my brother graduated and went off to college and in a few years I did too.
In my senior year of high school, my dad suffered a serious heart attack, but recovered and went back to work.
Five years later, the year after my wife and I were married, we were eating Saturday dinner with my parents. My dad got to feeling bad and went to the sofa to lie down.
I sat in his chair and we chatted, and in a moment of time my dad was with His Savior, at age 51.
I’ve missed him, his sense of humor, the twinkle in his eye. My fondest memory is seeing him sitting in his reclining chair, a cup of strong coffee by his side and his big Scofield Reference Bible open on his lap. And the greatest tribute that can be given came following his death when one of his co-workers said that his testimony at work and his untimely death made him think, and in so doing, he also gave his life to Christ.
In God’s grace and mercy, just a year earlier, He’d given me another dad, my father-in-law. He was very different yet also very much like my dad.
Another railroader (and farmer), strong, hardworking, disciplined, loving, a family man with three wonderful daughters.
He gave me his oldest (and sent a check each month to make me keep her – not really, but that’s what I’ve always said). He was Godly and served in the church and until he died of cancer in 2017, he was my father.
That’s not everyone’s story, I wish it was. But that’s God’s plan and God’s plans are always best. And they work, except when we, in our stubbornness and sin refuse to accept them and obey.
I thank God today for every dad, daddy, pop, poppa, granddad, grandpa, grandfather, and every man who is trusting God and working to be the man God created him to be.
Happy Father’s Day.
My tribute is this song written and sung by Holly Dunn:
“I remember daddy’s hands folded silently in prayer and reachin’ out to hold me when I had a nightmare. You could read quite a story in the callouses and lines, years of work and worry had left their mark behind.
“I remember daddy’s hands how they held my mama tight and patted my back for something done right. There are things that I’d forgotten that I loved about the man, but I’ll always remember daddy’s hands.
“I remember daddy’s hands working ‘til they bled, sacrificed unselfishly just to keep us all fed. If I could do things over, I’d live my life again and never take for granted the love in daddy’s hands.
“Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’; daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong. Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle but I’ve come to understand…there was always love in daddy’s hands.”