Like Father, Like Son

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Sometimes events creep up on us. Such is the case with my article a couple weeks ago. After it was already posted, I realized that it went out a few days before Father’s Day. Duh. I missed it.

But I can’t let this important day go by without a few words about fathers. Today is the day before my father’s 103rd birthday. I believe this is an appropriate time for this topic.

A teacher asked her students to write a story about “My Father.” One eight-year-old wrote:

“My father is great. He can swim big wide rivers and climb very high mountains. He can fight tigers and jungle animals and can even beat monsters. He can wrestle alligators and jump very high. But most of the time he just takes out the garbage.”

On a more serious note, here’s a poem about a father:

To get his goodnight kiss he stood beside my chair one night
And raised an eager face to me, a face with love alight.

And as I gathered in my arms the son God gave to me,
I thanked the lad for being good, and hoped he’d always be.

His little arms crept ‘round my neck and then I heard him say
Four simple words I can’t forget – four words that made me pray.

They turned a mirror on my soul, on secrets no one knew.
They startled me, I hear them yet; he said, “I’ll be like you.”

Charlie Shedd (1915-2004), Presbyterian pastor and author, quotes a famous psychiatrist as saying: “No little child will think more of God than he thinks of his father.” A youngster apparently cannot contrast. He can only compare.

Shedd imagines a child thinking, “God is like my father. I’m not so sure my father really cares much about me. He’s always playing golf, watching television, reading the newspaper. Besides, he isn’t very nice to my mother. He’s not even fair. I don’t think I’d like God.”

Shedd suggests a good short speech for a father to give to his children: “Listen to me, troops. When I’m the kind of father I should be, that’s what God is like! Where I am not so hot, I hope you’ll learn the all-important process of contrast.”

“Wherever the Bible says that God is like a father, you can understand it means that God is like a perfect father. You know I’m not perfect. But I’m going to keep on trying. And I want you to know that I know I’ve got a long way to go.” – Christianity Today

I hope your Father’s Day two weeks ago was as much a blessing to you as mine was to me. And I also hope your father is, or was, as much a blessing to you as mine was to me.

I Wish I Could Wave a Magic Wand

People, Father, Daughter, Smile, Happy, Hug, Carry

Not long ago I was waiting for a plane that would take me back home to Terry after a long weekend of preaching, teaching, and visiting with folks about estate planning and charitable giving. The plane was delayed two hours. I was tired and ready to get home.

After the plane finally arrived at the airport, an attendant announced that passengers on the flight should begin to line up according to the number on their boarding pass. Travelers reading this post probably know by now that I was traveling on Southwest Airlines. But I digress.

In the line for passengers needing additional assistance I happened to notice a young girl, probably six or seven years old, holding on to an adult male, probably 35 years old. She was crying softly but emotionally. He was trying to console her, without much success.

As the little girl cried, she wiped away her tears with her hands, apparently having no tissue or handkerchief. The man, whom I surmised to be her father, held out a corner of his jacket for her to use. She dried those tears, which were very quickly replaced by a new flood.

When it was her turn to board the plane, she clung more tightly to her father. After she had finally let go of him and walked down the jet bridge with the attendant, I passed him on my way to the plane, stopped, and simply said: “You’re a loving father. It’s not always easy.”

I had fairly quickly concluded that the young lady was visiting her father over the weekend, that he lived in the vicinity, and that her mother lived in Austin, the destination of my flight.

Those conclusions were confirmed after our flight landed in Austin. At the arriving passengers baggage claim I saw the same young girl. She was with an adult woman, probably 35 years of age. Their greeting at the airport of arrival did not appear to be nearly as tender as the one I had witnessed at the airport of departure. Yet it appeared that she was back with her mother.

The custody of a child shared by two obviously separated and probably divorced parents is not uncommon in today’s world. Yet the frequency of such custodial relationships in no way lessens the emotional tug-of-war that characterizes the lives of many such young girls and boys. It’s not easy for a child to move forth and back between his or her parents.

The natural relationship between a child and parents is for the child to live with and be raised by both parents. Divorce changes that natural order. In most cases a dependent child must share time with two different people in two different homes. Divorced parents most often still love their child deeply. And the child most often still loves both of his or her parents unceasingly.

In many cases, as in the one I’ve shared with you today, that love is often accompanied by tearful goodbyes. I wish I could wave a magic wand!