I was sharing that very thought with someone recently. When I was in 6th grade, I obviously hit "the age of accountability" that we hear so much about but on which we really can't put our finger or explain. I think I had used a bath towel and put it back in the cabinet wet. Of course, Mom found it and wanted to know who did it. "Not me!" Well, it wasn't long before the first-time guilt hit. I knew I had lied and it bothered me greatly. That very night, I crawled up in my daddy's lap back in his bedroom, and I confessed every known sin to man -- or at least to me: from sneaking the frozen cake squares out of the freezer and eating them behind closed doors (not that that one wouldn't have caught up with me down the road) to the pack of crackers I stole from the "Sing," a local rippy mart. (I think my friend jokingly commented at this point that it sure was a good thing my evening of confession happened before I got too old and REALLY had something to confess.) My daddy didn't berate me or punish or scold me, he just gently let me tell all, get it out of my system and come clean, and I'm sure he must have encouraged me to "go and sin no more." I don't remember that part. I just know the sense of relief I felt having bared all and the security I found in my father's lap.
Of course, I didn't realize it until many, many years later, but Daddy was sitting proxy for my heavenly Abba that night. When I think of mile markers in my faith journey, that was definitely one of them. I was so fortunate to have a daddy that was available, but most of all, forgiving.
And that wasn't the only time his presence was big to me. Each afternoon at 5:30 (except on Thursdays, because that was his day to drive), his carpool would drop him off at the end of the driveway and I would fly out to meet him. He would swing me up in his arms -- always as delighted to see me and I was to see him. Oh, the day, though, when I went running out and he tried picking me up -- and I was too heavy!!!! Oh, the pain of that even today... But we little girls do grow up.
Daddy was a storyteller, too. Another Jesus quality. When nighttime came, Daddy would see to it that prayers were said and then we would turn out the lights; I would pull the covers up and Daddy would tell me a story (sometimes my brother Chip would be in there with me) . Seems like time was all he had. I know he was making some of them up, but I have a feeling most of the stories were true. Quite honestly, I can't remember them, but I do remember laying there listening and never tiring of hearing them. Sometimes, I'd have requests. Other times, it was storyteller's choice. Both were special.
But one of the richest memories of Daddy is catching him on his knees. Every night, Daddy prayed -- and he did it the old-fashioned way: at the side of his bed, on his knees, hands folded. (Oh, no doubt, Mom prayed for us children, too. But I think she did it the only place she could find some quiet -- behind the locked bathroom door.) Surely the weight of the world was on Daddy's shoulders as he raised us four children on limited means. But I have a feeling he found the strength on his knees. As for that image, it is etched in my mind for all eternity.
I credit much of my faith to my parents, but I certainly know that my healthy view of God stems from my father. So, thanks, Dad. You took some of the faith struggles out of my life by being such a positive influence to me. I realize very few can give that kind of testimony in today's society where so many homes are absent of a father figure. These are different days we live in, but I hold tightly to the treasure you gave me. Happy Father's day, Daddy. I love you so much.
I would love to use this space for readers to comment on a father figure in your life: a dad, a stepdad, Boy Scout leader, uncle, brother, pastor, teacher, etc. Who made your view of God the Father a little stronger because of his influence in your life? Let's honor them.