Actually, I haven’t shopped for a Father’s Day gift in more than three decades. My father passed away 37 years ago when he was only 53. But, every Father’s Day I think about him. And I am filled with fond memories and deep gratitude.
Along the way, I became a father myself. My first child was born two years before my father died. Five years later, another son, and eight years after that our daughter was born the year I turned forty. They are all grown now, and have given us five grandchildren, ranging in age from two months to thirteen years.
Instead of thinking about what I might buy for my father at Father’s Day, I now think about what I want to give to my children. I hope I give them some of the meaningful gifts that my father gave me.
I hope I will give them a good example of honesty, generosity and friendship. I have always cherished the example my Dad set. He never went to college, never held an office or position, but he was a true friend to others. I often saw him choose to be cheated rather than to risk cheating someone else.
He took us to church, ran the sound system and helped the elderly up and down the elevator. When he died more than 800 people crowded the First Baptist Church of Corsicana to express their grief. For years after his death, our family received letters and cards from those who had been touched by his life.
I hope I will give them encouragement. My father was a constant encourager. He believed in me, even when I did not believe in myself. I still remember his hand upon my shoulder. His affectionate grin and his words of affirmation letting me know he believed I could do anything I set my mind to.
I hope I will give them a legacy of prayer. My Dad was not eloquent and was not a public speaker. I only heard him lead in a public prayer once. But he always prayed at the family table, usually a memorized prayer that included confession, forgiveness and a petition for protection in Jesus’ name. I don’t think we ever ate a family meal without my father praying that prayer.
I hope I will give my children and grandchildren a legacy of character. I never heard my father speak disparagingly of another person. He never complained. I never heard him speak a single profane word.
I hope I leave my children a memory of joy. When I think of my Dad I think of him grinning, with deep dimples in his cheeks. I remember him laughing, out of control until he couldn’t breathe. I remember him making other people laugh simply by his cheerful outlook on life.
When I think of fathers, and being a father, I think of Jesus. He gave us the greatest honor when He taught us to think of God as “our Father who art in Heaven.” He raised the bar when He challenged us saying, “Be perfect as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.”