I know many people who struggle with the concept of God as the “Father.” My brothers and I do not.
Our Dad lived his life as a reflection of God to us. He was such a consistent example.
He showed us God’s love for us in many ways. Because he loved us, he disciplined us. But he never disciplined us harshly or in a demeaning way. Even when he was mad at us for doing something stupid, especially in our teenaged years, he rarely needed to raise his voice. He’d just walk us through the problem and help us see the error of our ways. Then he’d help us figure out how we were going to fix it and avoid getting ourselves in the situation the next time. God disciplines us through loving correction and so did Dad.
He was also a living example of Ephesians 5:25 which says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Mom and Dad were married 68 years. I think Dad spent every waking moment of those 68 years making sure Mom was happy. His biggest concern when he was diagnosed with cancer was not whether he would walk again; no, it was about how his new challenges would effect Mom.
|Dad and Mom, sometime in the 1960's|
The other night about 1am as we sat at the hospital with him, Lynn mentioned that is was probably a good thing that Dad was unconscious. He would have been so mad at us for being out so late because of him. He would have said, “Take your Mom home and make sure she eats and goes to bed! Don’t you all fuss over me – take care of her!” He might have even threatened to “whup” us if we didn’t get going.
Because he lived out that verse in Ephesians every day for us, I’ve seen my brothers become the same type of husbands. They live sacrificially for their wives, just as Dad did for Mom. And trust me, I kept shopping until I found someone who treated me just as Dad lived for Mom.
He consistently put Mom’s needs first but she wasn’t the only one. He always thought of others before he thought of himself. He never complained about how he was feeling or had a pity party when things were tough; he might be lying in a hospital bed, suffering in pain, but he always asked the nurse or doctor, “How are you today? Are you having a good day?” Sometimes, you could tell it surprised them, because the sick guy seemed to be so concerned about the one who was supposed to be doing the healing.
Dad’s unconditional love was extended to those around him the world might call “enemies.” Honestly, we can’t think of a single person who might have considered Dad their enemy or for that matter, even disliked him. That’s because he treated every person with the same kindness and dignity, no matter how they treated him. If we had been wronged by someone, he’d say, “We need to feel sorry for that person. Something in their life has made them mean.” He understood that all people were God’s creations and were to be treated that way.
He was holding one of my boys one day. We’d only had them a month or so and he was admiring how beautiful their brown skin was. He said, “Why are people so mean to others just for the color of their skin? People were so mean to Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King and all the others… just for their brown skin…. How come?” His biggest fear for my boys was that someone might be mean to them.
The final thing about Dad was his sense of humor. I believe God created it in all of us. And with Dad, God gave him a little bit extra in the humor department. He loved to laugh and to tell stories that made other people laugh. He’d come home from work and tell us something funny that happened that day. He loved to make up funny songs for us and for our kids. In fact, there is one that we all know and love. He would take a child on his knee, bounce him or her like a bucking horse and then say this little rhyme. He didn’t make up the whole thing up, but he added a few lines of his own. It goes like this:
One zaw, two zaw, zigga zaw zan,
Bob-tail dominecker, little toy tan.
Virgil, Mary, Hailem scailem
And when he got to buck, the horse would buck the kid way up in the air and down again. The kid would scream with laughter and so would Dad. Sometimes he would be absolutely breathless from the laughter. But he’d do it again and again until everyone was exhausted. He considered laughter a gift from God to be shared over and over again.
So many people have commented on our posts on Facebook about what Dad meant to them. But the most consistent one: “He was the greatest example of a Godly man I ever knew.”
Yep, that was Dad.