They say it like it’s a bad thing: “Oh, you just think you’re SO GOOD!”
It’s the expressions that are so fun. As if their words no longer have intrinsic meaning and must be accompanied by that cute little wrinkling of the upper lip and bobbing their heads back and forth. See? You think it’s amusing, too, because you were just doing it yourself. Oh, you did, too.
“Friend, don’t go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God’s work.” (3 John 11)
Them’s partin’ words from an old man to someone he considers his son in the faith. John knew his time on Earth was short and that he’d soon be headin’ Home. These thoughts, then, are appropriate since Sunday is Father’s Day.
Most of us go on and on about it. “I had the best dad ever. I miss him like it was yesterday.” I believe we mean those words, usually highlighted by a break in our voices. You know why we miss ’em? We took ’em for granted when it was yesterday and they were still here. “I DID NOT. I NEVER–” Hey. I get it. You may be one of the few who don’t fit here. If so, thank you for a great witness; pray for the rest of us. I’m saying I don’t know anybody, being honest, who hasn’t at some point thought their dad clueless, as out of touch with their world as a duck on a pogo stick.
“Your dad is so cool.” I actually looked around to see who they were talking about. Oh, give it a rest. You have done the same. It’s one reason we truly miss ’em. There’s no earthly way to make that right. Or, as John says, good.
The other reason is that those of us who are dads now realize our dads definitely had a clue. We were so focused on what we thought important that they didn’t know that it totally escaped our adolescent or 20-something awesomeness: they had things of real value on their minds and knew just about everything about it. And about us.
And they loved us anyway.
John says our Heavenly Father’s that way. And when we practice the good, trying to keep a straight face at the facial contortions of our critics trying to justify being non-good, we’re modeling God to our world. And to our kids.
There is no greater thing you or I as a dad can do in this life than live as authentically a Christ-centered life before our kids – especially our sons – as we can.
Daddy loved roses. For all I know, it may be a Boone thing. Anyway, I’d see him out admiring them, fussing with them, clipping this and spraying that–just in general helping them be as beautiful as they were created to be. As I mused over old John’s words to his ‘son’ I thought, “Isn’t modeling the good what essential dadhood is?”
I glanced down at the Miracle-Gro in my hand. Without any conscious thought, I’d been admiring my roses, encouraging them by clipping off the dead stuff and giving them what I had to help them grow and flourish. I thought back… Everywhere I ever remember us living we always left roses behind. The houses themselves didn’t matter. Daddy always saw to it: we’ll leave it better than we found it.
Then I looked back… Everywhere WE ever lived we always left roses behind.
Huh. Must’ve took. Wherever my son and daughters have lived, guess what they’ve left behind?
I don’t visit my roses without thinking of Daddy. All that time I thought my advanced degrees and different experience had totally outclassed him. In actuality, he’d spent all that time quietly observing me, waiting patiently to see if I’d overcome my own self-importance in time to get my hands and knees dirty planting something of value in my wake besides my own untried ideas. If I’d have just asked, he’d already tried ’em all.
That would’ve saved me an awful lot of silly work. It would’ve also given me a few more precious memories with my daddy.
It would not have sounded terribly profound at the time; yet right now I can hear him: “Danny boy, don’t go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God’s work.”
You modeled it, Daddy. I know you thought your efforts hopelessly imperfect. I was paying attention, even if I acted like I wasn’t. I get it now. And for what it’s worth, I’m doing my best to pass those same things on to my son and daughters.
All right, you three. Get out there and plant some more roses.
© D. Dean Boone, June 2014