THAT'S WHAT A FATHER IS FOR
By David Sisler
One evening several years ago, I was standing in a department store, people watching. The most interesting folks were two little boys and their fathers.
The first boy, probably a first grader, was singing to himself. I could not identify the song from five feet away, because he was singing so softly. He smiled as his head bobbed back and forth with the rhythm.
Abruptly his father stopped. The man's gaze swooped down on the boy like an attacking predator.
"I told you to shut up," the man hissed.
I have seen puppies slink away from someone who has mistreated them. The little boy reacted like that. Fortunately, he was faster than the hand which shot towards his face.
Seconds later, a second boy came by, carried in the arms of his father. This little fellow was wearing a small blue baseball cap. On the front of the cap was the legend, "Little Slugger." It is a style that has been worn by thousands of boys whose Dads dream their sons will become major league baseball players.
"Slugger" was about two years old, and not very well coordinated. When he tried to touch his cap, he flipped it off the back of his head. The motion turned the cap around so that the bill poked his Dad in the eye.
There was a flash of pique as "Slugger's" Dad took the hat off his son's head. Just as quickly, the irritation was replaced by a smile and he put the cap on his own head.
I wish the first Dad, the "Shut Up" Dad could have seen "Slugger's" smile. In whatever fashion a little guy would define audacity, or maybe sheer unbelief — that was the look of joy on "Slugger's" face. He understood the joke. His look said, "Dad, you look silly, but I love you."
I watched as "Shut Up" took his son onto the escalator. As they stepped onto the moving stairway the father barked, "I'm tired of your actions. If I have to speak to you one more time, I'm going to slap you until your ears ring."
"Slugger" and his Dad walked back past me a few minutes later. Mom was now carrying the hat her men no longer wanted to wear. "Slugger" and Father, were skipping, very child-like, through a very proper department store.
Actor Martin Priest counts his father, a pattern maker in the garment industry, as one of his blessings.
Priest says that when he would ask his father for $10, he would give him $5. One time he asked his dad for $500. The next morning the money was on his bureau.
"Pop," Martin Priest said, "I don't get it. I ask you for ten and you only give me five. I ask for $500 and it's there in the morning. Why?"
His father replied, "If you need $10 or $5, that's for nonsense. If you need $500, you must he in trouble, and that's what a father is for."
A doctor in family practice tabulated the things that were troubling his patients. Forty percent of the worries which were told to him never materialized. Thirty percent were related to wishes for other people. Twelve percent of the worries were related to physical difficulties which had been caused by, and intensified, by worry. Ten percent of the things which were worried about happened in normal everyday life and were impossible to control, no matter what one did. Only the last eight percent were valid problems that needed the attention of his medical skill.
"Look at the birds in the air," Jesus said one day. "They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns. But your heavenly father feeds the birds. And you know that you are worth much more than birds."
Where do birds get their food? Unless they are nestlings or household pets, they feed themselves. Some are seed eaters, others carrion eaters or fish eaters, others eat insects, still others are scavengers. Their heavenly Father feeds them, but he does it not by stretching out his hand filled with food. Instead, he provides in nature all that they need to feed themselves.
What happens to those birds which Jesus said to observe closely? They eat. They fly. They build nests. They have offspring. They die. Die? That's right, but, Jesus said, "Not even one of the little birds can die without your Father's knowing it."
The difference between those who are comfortable with God's care and those who are uncomfortable with their own provision is found in their attitude towards the God whom Jesus called "Father." Jesus advised, "Don't worry and say, ‘What will we eat?' or ‘What shall we drink?' or ‘What will we wear?' All the people who do not know God keep trying to get these things. And your Father in heaven knows that you need them. The thing you should want most is God's kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things will be given to you."
Like Martin Priest's dad said, "That's what a father is for." Especially when God is your Father!
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 6/7/97
Copyright 1997 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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