Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
He didn’t wear a cape or an iron suit but he was a hero to me. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I was born. It all happened on January 6, 1954 in Orange Park, Florida. I was number eight in a family of eight. This can’t be confirmed but I think it went something like this. My daddy was somewhat of a perfectionist and he and my mom had tried seven times to have the perfect child. He went to my mom and said, “Well, honey, I know we have tried seven times to pull off this perfect child thing and I say we give it one more shot. I really think eight is going to be our lucky number.” So, ta-da here I am…living proof that persistence pays off.
My daddy was 42 years old when I was born. He had plenty of experience at the Father thing and you know, I think he did a great job. I don’t recall a lot of special events in my early and later childhood but that isn’t because they didn’t happen. I can remember family camping trips to the beach as well as all night fishing trips to the same. I can remember family vacations to see relatives in all the hot vacation spots like New Jersey and Texas. I can remember trips to Silver Springs, Six Gun Territory and Doctor’s Inlet which was a great place to go for a lake swim. But there are also several memories with just dad and me.
When I was about six, daddy took me fishing on Cedar Creek. It was just me and him. At this age, I wasn’t very good at fishing or paying attention. Truth be known I had a hard time staying focused on anything for very long. Anyway, the fish were biting that day but I had a hard time watching the bobber. Over and again, daddy would ask, “Dewayne, where’s your bobber?” I would look and it was gone. We lost a lot of good worms that day.
Later, when I was about ten, daddy took me hunting. The big deal was that he allowed me to take my BB gun. I wasn’t allowed to carry a real gun; you will see why in a moment. So, we were walking through the woods and I was about four feet behind dad. Silent as a F5 tornado, I crept through the woods. I was too noisy but dad was way patient. And then, well, I shot him in the back. Now wait, don’t panic. It was only a BB gun and he did have his heavy hunting jacket on. I had my finger on the trigger (oops) and every so slowly and without even realizing it, increased the pressure. Just like that it went off and got dad square in the back. Bummer.
Do you know what? He didn’t holler and in fact he didn’t say a single word. He just looked over his shoulder and gave me that “I’m glad that wasn’t a 12 gauge” look. I appreciated that and have never forgotten the fact that he could have made me feel “less than” but didn’t. I’m sure we had a talk about gun safety and it must have worked out because I never shot him again.
My two favorite memories of him don’t involve a fishing pole or a gun. They involve God. Honestly, daddy didn’t go to church a bunch but I know he was a Christian because of the way he lived. Two events, two memories are burned into my mind and heart. The first is a time when we were having prayer time together as a family. Some people call it family altar…at the time I probably called it too long. I remember it was time to pray so we all got down on our knees around the room. I got a little bored so I peeked and there across the room was my daddy, on his knees, talking to God. It made a big impression on my young heart.
Later, when I was about 17 I caught daddy praying again. I came home from a date late one night and there sitting at the kitchen table was my daddy—praying. With his hands clasped together he was talking to God. I don’t know what prompted the late night prayer meeting but I know it again made a big impression on me as a young man. And that is the point. My daddy made an impression on me that impacted so many areas of my life. Integrity, work ethic, caring and providing for your family and being a man were all part of the core curriculum.
I didn’t get to keep my daddy too much longer. When I was in high school he had a massive heart attack. He lived a couple of more years but when he was just 62 and I was 20, God decided to take him home. Suddenly, on a Sunday morning he went to heaven. It was hard and is hard to this day. He never got to meet my wife, children or any of his eight great grandchildren. He never got see much of my career in the Air Force or hear me preach a sermon. I hope in heaven they keep tabs on us down here and I hope I’ve made my hero proud.
Well, now that we are all sad and weepy let me throw this in. Whether you are young or older, take the time this Father’s Day, and every day, to tell your dad (and mom) how much you appreciate them. One of God’s big commands is that we honor our parents and when we do—we honor Him. There’s no better way to do that than to tell them and show them that you love them. I know things don’t always work out with dads and if that is the case with you I am so sorry. My dad wasn’t perfect…none are but his love outweighed his warts. If you are a Jesus follower, I hope you can extend some grace…just like God did to you. And always remember, you have a Heavenly Father who is perfect, who always gets it right. He’s always waiting for you to crawl up in His lap and take a rest. And the icing on the cake is He is stronger than a super hero…and because of that, He’s got this.