Tag Archives: father

Dad, Just Believe

This Sunday is Father’s Day, the time when we celebrate the dads in our lives.  Being the father of four, I can attest that being a dad is not a undertaking for the faint of heart.  Generations ago, men had it easier, if Ward Cleaver or Mike Brady of classic television sitcoms are any indication – work every day during the week, escape to the home office when you are home and play golf on the weekends; the only time a dad interacted with their children was to dispense disciplinary chastisement or moral clichés.  Today’s dads are expected to work inside and outside the home, attend a fair number of their children’s extra-curricular and school events, and spend quality time with their family.  As I reflect on these things, I realize that being a father is one of the hardest and greatest roles God has blessed me to perform.

There is a man, a father, in the Bible that inspires me as a dad.  His name was Jairus.  He was a synagogue leader (and therefore a man of faith) and the father of a 12-year-old daughter.   But he was a father in crisis: despite the religious practices he, no doubt, engaged in (praying, offering sacrifices and fasting), his daughter was dying.  What would you do if your baby was deathly ill?  If you are Jairus, you go to an itinerant rabbi whom you heard had accomplished miracles.  However, before he could return with the man of Galilee, a servant of his tells him that it is too late: his daughter is dead.

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”  Luke 8:50

Instead of giving up, Jairus gave his troubles over to Jesus.  He continued the long walk home and, instead of trusting the eyes of his servant, he trusted the words of a stranger.  As he came into his home, there was weeping and mourning appropriate to the circumstances.  But Jesus would not have any of it.

He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing?  The child is not dead but asleep.”  But they laughed at him.  Mark 5:39-40

What is a dad to do?  You take a leap of faith and everyone you care about thinks it is a joke.  But, then again, what did he have to lose?  If Jesus was unable to do anything, his daughter was still dead…but what if HE WAS ABLE to do something amazing?

There are days that I feel like Jairus, asking Jesus to secure a healthy future of my child.  I have nothing I can offer but trust: trust that my 10-year-old will safely navigate the streets of Boston from school to home, trust that my 17-year-old will pass that difficult class, trust that my 20-year-old will be protected from the dangers prevalent in our national capital and trust that my 23-year-old will arrive home safely from that job 131 miles away.    People may say that my intercessions are realistically useless or that my circumstances are ridiculously hopeless.  Still, the dad in me will trust in the one who is able to do immeasurably more than I can imagine.

Happy Father’s Day to all those who are blessed to be called “Dad”.

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Eighty and Oscar

Tomorrow is my father’s 80th birthday.  Happy birthday, Dad!

Sunday is Oscar® day, when the Academy Awards are presented.  Hooray for Hollywood!

The above-stated occasions may seem to most as two random calendar entries, but to me, they are inextricably linked.  For those who are unaware of my upbringing, my parents separated and divorced when I was in grade school.  While the intervening years have dulled my memory, I do recall a number of weekend matinees that my dad took us to see: “Robin Hood”, “Pete’s Dragon”, “Superman”, “Star Trek” and more.  I remember the hours in the dark at the General Cinema Theater at Westgate Mall and the Brockton East Twin Cinema.   It was in those moments that I gained a love for movies – good movies, bad movies, all movies.

In thinking about these memories, some more than four decades old, I am reminded of the love my dad had (and has) for my siblings and me, and the love I have for him.  While we spent few nights under the same roof, we spent hours together every weekend.  I remember waiting for him to pick us up (making a game of counting cars of a randomly particular color) and I cannot recall ever being disappointed when he never arrived.  We had inside jokes (ordering “pine tree floats” at MerMac’s and trying to spell the name one of his old bosses, S. Gunnar Myrbeck), ate hundreds of hamburgers and watched dozens of movies.

A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother. – Proverbs 10:1

As the years have passed and the miles have grown between us, my meetings with my dad have grew more infrequent, but my love for my dad and my love for the movies have remained.  I appreciate all those afternoons, with or without popcorn, that we shared watching the silver screen.  I think about that as I take my children to the movies, tell the same corny jokes and buy the same fast food.   I love you, Dad.

Thinking about my dad taking me to the movies all those years ago makes me wonder why I love the movies so much.  I am sure it has something to do with those deep-seated emotions of my childhood.  It also has something to do with the escape the darkened theater provides: a diversion from the daily grind to exotic and fantastic places.  Mostly, I reckon, it has to do with the story – dozens of accounts of love and loss, risk and rescue, life and death.  Thank you, Dad, for giving me all that.  I carry a part of you every time I buy a ticket.  Happy Birthday!  Maybe one day soon we can catch one more movie together.

For what it is worth, after seeing most of the nominated films (there’s still time to finish the challenge), I would give the Oscars to “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri”, Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell.  Knowing my track-record, I’m due to be right.

A Question From The Valley

cancerIt was not a simple question that my father asked me a few days ago: “What do you say to your people at church who are going through something like this?”  My Dad’s wife, Sandra, has advanced-stage lymphoma and has been struck with a series of setbacks in recent weeks.  While there is always the possibility of new medical advances, my Dad is facing the real possibility that this may be his wife’s final days.  And so he asked his son, the professional pastor and amateur theologian, what he would say to bring comfort.  In truth, I suspect that my opinion is not the one being sought by my father; I suspect he really wants to hear from God.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20–21 (NIV)

So, what would I say to the people at church who are facing a journey that traverses the ‘valley of the shadow of death’?   First and foremost, trust in the fact that God is able to do things that our finite brains cannot fathom.  He is able to eradicate lymphoma, lung cancer and brain cancer; He is able to overcome depression and addiction; He is able to restore what was once lost.  I would want those who stand at the precipice of this world, looking toward the next, to know that God is able and I would want them to hold onto the hope that a cure, a remission, a breakthrough is always possible.  While it is true that God does not always act in the ways we think He ought, we can take comfort that He is always able to accomplish His will.

Secondly, God’s power is at work within us.  He has given us, who trust solely in the person and work of Jesus Christ, His Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, the Advocate.  Because we have the very presence of God with us we are not alone in our struggles and sorrows.  He comforts us amidst our tears and knows the pain we face.  He uplifts and encourages us through His word and His people.  He has promised to never leave us and never forsake us.  While it is true that God does not always act in the ways we think He ought, we can take comfort that He is always with us through it all.

Thirdly, all tragedy, even this tragedy, can be something which glorifies God.  Our suffering is not God’s fault, but ours – our sin, and the sin of our forebears, brought death into the world.  To know that God himself, in the person of Christ, endured excruciating death for our benefit enables us to endure death (even excruciating death) for His glory.  If we know that Jesus is our redeemer, Lord and savior, we know that death is not the end but rather a glorious beginning to our eternal life with Him and our loved ones who have gone on before us.   While it is true that God does not always act in the ways we think He ought, we can take comfort that He will keep that which has been committed to Him until that day of glory before His throne.

Life is not easy.  Death is not easy.  Our only hope is that God is able, He is powerful and He is glorious.   My prayer is that these words might bring comfort to my Dad and to all those facing impossible odds.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27 (NIV)