Object Lessons in the Life of a Father

by Andy Wood on June 17, 2010

in Insight, Life Currency, Turning Points

Sometimes when God wants to reveal His heart to us, He communicates with words.  But for folks like me, sometimes he has to draw a picture.  I thought since Father’s Day is approaching, I would give you a glimpse into the gallery of my soul and show you a master Artist at work. . . . 

The Bracelet

“Hold out your hand,” she said as I entered the room to kiss her good-night.  With that, my daughter interrupted momentarily my nightly bedtime routine.  “This is for you.”

“This” was an orange nylon cord with slip knots in either end that formed a bracelet – a friendship bracelet, she called it.  As she tightened the cord around my wrist, she said that she wanted me to have it because I was her friend.

I had time over the years to look my gift over pretty carefully.  The orange cord is laced with black and yellow thread and looks very nice, although it never matched a thing I wore.  That’s O.K., though.  Friendship bracelets are designed to match hearts, not shirts. 

I also had plenty of opportunities to explain my new piece of jewelry.  I must have been on the turnip truck for some time; seems that everyone else knew what a friendship bracelet is.  And they wanted to know where I got mine.  I have to admit, it was pretty neat to tell them – one of those proud-to-be-a-daddy-and-maybe-I’ve-done-something-right moments.

Over the next several weeks I changed clothes over a hundred times.  My watch came off and on about as often.  But the bracelet remained.  I wore it in the shower, and it just got cleaner.  It looked great with a jogging suit.  Dress suit, too, as far as I was concerned. 

Of course, I got that uncomfortable “How-long-are-you-going-to-wear-that” stuff from my wife.  But that’s okay, too.  Wives are supposed to ask silly questions like that.  I know one kid who thought it was pretty amazing that her dad would wear an orange bracelet with his jet-black suit.

More than making a fashion statement, I enjoyed what my friendship bracelet meant to me.  This particular daughter isn’t the mushy type.  In fact, I’ve even joked that when I’m old and invalid, she won’t even bother with a nursing home for me.  She’ll just tie me to a mattress and float me down the river.

But when she offered her bracelet to me, she offered me her heart.  Children do that in all sorts of marvelous ways, and this was her marvelous way.  And I received it quietly, with a smile and lots of gratitude.  I’ve never gushed over it, or shed sloppy tears.  I didn’t remove it from my arm, either. 

You see, she never had a choice about who her father was.  God ‘n’ biology made that decision.  But she could choose her friends.  And she chose me.  It was one of the greatest honors I have ever received.

My daughter, my friend.  It’s has a nice ring to it.  It also has a high price tag.  But it’s a price worth paying, knowing that someone who has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in me would look at me that way. 

I don’t remember how long the friendship bracelet graced my wrist.  But the love that sent it will grace my heart for as long as I live. 

The Car

All of us experience those times in which we lose something or someone dear to us, either temporarily or permanently.  When that happens, God will often send us a “Boaz” – one of His loving replacements that reveal His heart to us. 

Do you remember the story of Ruth?  Following the death of her husband, she chose to stay with Naomi and live in real poverty.  Then God in His mercy sent Boaz into her life.  Boaz was a warm and generous man, who also had great wealth.  He first met Ruth’s material needs, then eventually married her.  He became God’s loving replacement for someone that Ruth held precious.

When my son was four years old, I experienced a temporary, but very painful loss.  Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, I was prevented from going on a mission trip that I had planned and oversaw.  In the midst of the deep hurt, I asked the Lord if He had a “Boaz” for me.  His answer was unlikely, and as close as my own family.

We were living in Birmingham at the time, and it was Race Week at Talladega.  So on Thursday afternoon, I planned one of those special father-and-son outings for Joel and me.  It was qualifying day for the big race, and Joel had never seen race cars run, so we went to take it all in. 

As a lasting reminder of that day, on the way I gave him a little plastic race car replica I had picked up the week before. 

“Joel, that’s what the race cars look like,” I told him. 

It was interesting to watch his response.  My son is not the mushy type, and I wasn’t interested in forced gratitude, so I just let him respond naturally.

His first response was to praise me personally. 

“Daddy, you’re nice,” he said. 

I just smiled. 

Then he thanked me. 

Then for the rest of the day that little car never left his presence.  He cherished it, held it, put it in his cap to carry around, played with it, and asked a million questions about it. 

There were just as many questions when we got to the track.  Those “foh weal” race cars held his attention about as long as you would expect for a four-year-old.  But his greatest joy was being with me.  He talked almost as much about riding on my shoulders as he did his first experience at a race track.

I never knew how full my heart would be when I went to bed that night.  I never dreamed that I would find so much joy in sharing with my son something that was special to me – something my dad had done for me more than 20 years earlier.  I never imagined that God would use a four-year-old and a race track to answer my prayer for a “Boaz.”  In the place of a mission trip experience, He gave me a Father’s heart – and an insight into His heart.

If Joel’s praise and gratitude over a 99-cent car was so meaningful to me, how much more joy does it bring the Father when I praise Him, and thank Him? 

If his sheer joy in being in my presence for an afternoon was a delight to me, how much more delight does our Heavenly Father have when we spend quality time with Him? 

If I could find such joy in giving little things to my son, how much more does my Heavenly Father delight in giving good things to me? 

Late that night, I went to his room watch him sleep – still holding that race car.  With the heart of a father, I found such fulfillment in just watching over him. 

How much more does my Father in Heaven enjoy watching over me? 

The Heart

Years ago, when the twins were two and learning about “Jesus being in your heart,” one of them pointed to my chest and said, “Daddy, you have a big Jesus!”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“Because you have a big heart.”

Wouldn’t it be great if the size of our “Jesus” corresponded to the size of our chest?  It made sense to a two year old. 

Now that she’s 25, with a son of her own, Daddy doesn’t loom nearly so large before her.  Over the years, she has discovered quite a few places where my heart seems woefully small.  But oh, my God, I pray she can somehow still see a great big Jesus when she looks at me.

Thanks for visiting my gallery.  Hopefully you can tell this is sacred ground to me.  Stop back by; I’m sure I’ll have some other pictures to show you later 

Say, have you ever thought of opening up a gallery of your own?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Teresa Davidson June 18, 2013 at 7:06 am

Thank you for sharing these stories – they truly touched my heart! 🙂

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