We observe or celebrate a lot of holidays – Patriotic days, like the Fourth of July and Veterans Day and Memorial Day, religious holidays like Christmas and Easter and Good Friday, national days of observance like Thanksgiving, and dozens of other lesser-known holidays. But I have to say that one of the best holidays, after those that celebrate Christ, has to be Father’s Day. We live in a society where the father’s role has been undermined, partly because of a society set against manhood, and partly because of self-sabotage. And I don’t get the impression that our culture as a whole really cares. The disappearance of the leader-father is overlooked in the shadow of other epidemics and controversies that ignite zeal and spend energy. How amazing, then, that we still have one day out of the year where we as a nation celebrate our fathers!
We celebrated today with a spur-of-the-moment jaunt to Lakota Lake for a little kayaking and enjoying of the fresh air and sunshine, and got ice cream on the way home at Rushmore Cave. Dad is handy with a grill and with a gun, so he grilled us up some venison from his hunting this past fall. Nothing quite like good venison steak and fresh corn on the cob, especially for a family who almost exclusively eats chicken. It’s a running joke. Watermelon up at Grandma’s, and an episode of the TV series Christie topped off our evening.
God’s design for the father is that he serve as leader in the home. He is to be the spiritual leader, and lead his children in the fear of the Lord. He is to love God first and foremost, and love his wife and cherish her, and teach his children to love and cherish her as well. He is to be a man of character and integrity, lovingly and gently leading his children, disciplining when necessary, and not provoking his children to anger or discouragement. That’s a tall order. And one, I believe, that truly requires God’s grace.
I’ve been so blessed to have a father who not only loves his family, but who has led his family consistently and courageously in Godliness. He sets an example of humility, of faith, and of trusting God in all things. He has a testimony of faith that is awe-inspiring, a testimony that proves that God can save anyone, no matter how wrong their life trajectory is, no matter how many bad life decisions a person has made, or how much they have rebelled against God. My dad’s testimony proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a relationship with God truly is transforming.
Dad’s life since he was saved has been characterized by a submission to God’s will, in the face of extreme odds, in the face of skepticism and criticism and lack of support. We wouldn’t be out here in South Dakota if it hadn’t been for Dad’s determination to submit to God’s will and to make his decisions based not off of practicality or the world’s model of success, but to make his decisions based on what would be best for his family, from a spiritual standpoint. Dad wouldn’t be in seminary right now at the age of 57 and pursuing full time ministry if it wasn’t for his determination to submit to God’s will, no matter how crazy it might appear to onlookers.
He has modeled love and faithfulness in marriage, he has modeled humility and gentleness in parenting, he is the man I love most in the world, the person I go to for advice and help and counsel, and as I get older he has become a friend as well. He isn’t perfect. He is a sinner just like I am, saved by the grace of God. But he loves the Lord with all of his heart, soul, and mind.
And I am so glad he is my dad.