Thanks, Dad

I miss my father. Dad died in January of 2000, and I still wish I could have coffee with him or call him on the phone.

My father was a good man. Dad worked on the assembly line at the Goodyear plant and then at the Chevrolet transmission plant in Muncie. He worked hard to provide for his family. He would come home after working and putter around the house or in the yard, fixing things to save money so our family could have a better life. Dad could repair just about anything. Sometimes his fixes were not exactly professional, but they were most always functional.

Dad rarely showed more anger than a mild curse word. My own steadiness is a reflection of his. He loved our mother and he loved us three children. He loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He demonstrated that love by spending time with us. I spent hours as a child fishing with dad in the summer and bowling with dad in the winter. He taught me how to throw horseshoes. And how to play badminton. And euchre. My dad was the best euchre player I have ever known.

Some of my fondest memories of my dad took place at the lake cottage we rented each summer (and then finally bought a place on the lake). Dad and I would fish, either from the pier or in our boat. He would come down to the beach and play with us in the water. He would get going telling stories at our nightly campfire as we roasted hot dogs, pudgy pies, and made s'mores, and we would laugh till our sides hurt.

Dad wasn't much of a church-goer. He was way too much of an introvert for crowds. We were Lutherans. Sadly, I don't think I ever heard my dad pray out loud. But he joined in quietly when I would pray at family meals, and he received my prayers for his healing as he battled the cancer that finally took his life. His faith was deep, but mostly private.

Dad taught and modeled honesty, integrity, discipline and hard work. His laugh was infectious. His love for me and my two sisters was the bedrock of our growing up. And without knowing it or being intentional about it, Dad was a reflection and a model of the love of my heavenly Father.

I tried my best to be the kind of father for my children that dad was for me. I know they love me, and they know I love them - no matter what. I have tried to be the same Christian man at home as I have lived as a Pastor. Prayer comes easily in our family. Following Jesus and seeking God's will is something we have always done, and my adult children still do, living out the legacy of the family they grew up in.

I have no greater accomplishment in life than having been the best dad I could be to my children. My kids did not grow up with a perfect father. Far from it. But they have always been protected and not abused. They have always been loved and not abandoned. Shirley and I have done our best to show them the Lord Jesus, who is the rock of our lives. And we are so proud of both of them.

I have deep gratitude that my dad was an honorable, loving father. It made it easy for me to see what Jesus was teaching when He taught us to call God our Father. And when I became a dad, the truth of God's love for me as my Father in heaven came alive at even deeper levels because of the love I have for my children.

One final thought on Father's Day: I know that some folks who are reading this did not have a positive father model. Some dads abandon their families. Some fathers are angry and abusive. Some are so wounded by the experience of brokenness because of a father or stepfather that the thought of God being Father to them is a negative thing, not a positive one. I pray for healing for you. I pray you can come to realize God is a loving Father who is for you, even if your earthly father failed or wounded you. I pray you are immersed in God's love and grace so the deep wounds heal. God loves you. God is for you. Jesus laid down His life for you. You are His beloved child.

I miss my dad. But I have a Father who promises I will see dad again in eternity. And I keep praying I will be the right kind of father for my children as long as I live.

Happy Father's Day.

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