Background Passage: I Corinthians 13:4-8a
I’m certain there were a great many times during my sons’ teenage years when they agreed with Mark Twain when he said, “When I was fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.” Hopefully, now that both of them are in their 30s, they might agree with Twain’s finished thought. “But, when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned.”
We celebrate Father’s Day this weekend. Last year I wrote about my Dad and the genuineness and integrity he brings to life each day. This weekend, he is in a rehab hospital recovering from hip replacement surgery at the age of 91. He is a good, good man.
I think back on all I learned from Dad and hope I put the best of those things into practice during my 38 years as the father of two sons. Adam and Andrew witnessed my response through the ups and downs…through life’s turmoil and trauma and its beauty and blessings. They saw me struggle when the fog of life shrouded my sense of direction. Hopefully, they also saw me press on until the mist lifted and the sun shone brightly again. Hopefully, they learned during all those days what not to do as easily as they learned what to do.
I have watched my two sons grow and mature into amazing husbands and fathers. Granted, neither of them has walked yet in the furnace of fire that will surely engulf them during the teenage years to come. Based on what I have seen so far, I think they’ll do fine.
So, on this Father’s Day, while I am eternally grateful for the example of my own father, I am equally blessed by the example of my sons.
I rejoice also knowing that both of my sons know first-hand the love of Christ and live each day in faith and commitment to him. Their relationship to Christ guides their relationships with their wives, their children and all those they encounter. They live as a witness to their faith by telling their kids about Jesus and his love for them and by bringing their children to church. As a result, the seed of grace and faith have already been planted in the lives of grandchildren. This testimony of faith is the greatest gift my sons will give their children through all the days of their lives.
Both my sons married well. God led them to two women who complement them in every way. Adam’s wife, Jordan, and Andrew’s wife, Melissa, are delightful additions to our family. It is obvious to me that Adam and Andrew adore them. Love is evident at its deepest level. Visible in meaningful ways. I’m grateful that they listened as God put those two women into their lives. They are stronger men and better fathers because of these exceptional young women.
Adam and Jordan have two sons, Eli, 6, and Josiah, 4. Andrew and Melissa have two daughters, Lena, 2, and Amelia, 6 months. These children recognize at some level the love their parents have for one another, even if they may be too young to fully understand it. It is another beautiful gift my sons give their children.
The two families joined us at our house today to celebrate my Father’s Day. It was good to have them here. The house was noisy, busy with the echoes of childish laughter and the stomp of running feet throughout the house. Sublime perfection.
Because I had this thought in mind for this devotional, I watched more closely the way my sons covered my grandkids in love. The passage of scripture that came to mind was not one of those traditional Father’s Day scriptures. Paul’s words in I Corinthians 13 jumped into my heart.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
I watch my sons playing with their children, spending quality time with them, and this is what I see. A love that is both patient and kind, expressed in arms that enfold them. Words of encouragement that build a child’s self-worth. A love that disciplines when necessary…not in a hateful or reactive manner, but in an instructive way. The fatherly guidance children need to understand the nature of right and wrong. Lessons that teach acceptable behavior and how God wants them to live. It is a love that guides and seeks the best for the child. The love I see in their eyes as they live life as a parent is protective, trusting, hopeful and constant. It is, I know, a love that never fails.
So, I watch them and think, “Maybe I didn’t screw them up after all.”
We like to talk about children who look like their parents. We say, “He has his father’s eyes.” Gary Chapmen wrote a song in 1979 that shows he understands that phrase in a different way. He saw in his own father a man who found the good in everyone and every circumstance. A man whose eyes reflected compassion and empathy. Chapman’s hope expressed in the first verse is that others will see in his own eyes what he saw in his father’s eyes. He then takes the last verse to a deeper level, reminding us that the world ought to see the loving eyes of our heavenly father reflected in our own.
I truly don’t know what others might see of me when they look into the eyes of my sons. I hope my influence has been a positive one. What is most important to me is that others see the eyes of Christ in the eyes of my sons because that’s what I see. For in their eyes, I see…
“Eyes that find the good in things,
When good is not around;
Eyes that find the source of help,
When help just can’t be found;
Eyes full of compassion,
Seeing every pain;
Knowing what you’re going through
And feeling it the same.”
In my mind, Adam and Andrew have their heavenly Father’s eyes that shine with compassion and empathy in their relationship to their wives, their children and the world around them. An earthly father cannot hope for more.
As I watched the frenetic activity around me today, I prayed that my grandchildren someday realize what a blessing it is to be wrapped in their father’s love. I pray they have their fathers’ eyes…as well as Father’s eyes.