In this season of hope we call Advent, we will prepare ourselves for Christmas by reflecting each week on the words of the Prophet Isaiah,
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,Prince of Peace.”
I am writing this as I sit in a waiting room.
As a father of four, I have sat in a lot of different waiting rooms. Fortunately, this waiting room is at a vehicle licensing centre where my oldest is taking her driver’s license road test. I am sitting here with the usual butterflies in my stomach, hoping that the next time I see my daughter it will be with a smile on her face and not tears in her eyes. While it is uncomfortable to wait, I know there are a lot worse waiting rooms I could be sitting in – I have sat in a few of those over the years as well.
I am a father and I try to be the best father I can be. This has meant early morning basketball practices and late night hockey games. This has meant bracing for blind lane changes and for children who want to talk long after my own bed time never mind their own. This has meant learning to handle long hair and young hearts with a little more gentleness than I may have handled my own over the years. I can’t say that any of these things have come naturally so much as they have come willingly. After all, I am a father and I love my children. This is what I signed on for.
Being a father has also meant dealing with change. As my children grow, my carefully perfected swing-pushing and toboggan-pulling skills are no longer needed as they once were. Instead a different set of skills are needed. As they continue to grow towards adulthood, I know the day is coming when they will no longer need me. When it does, I hope they will want me in their lives as I have always wanted them in mine. As I look further ahead still, I know the day is coming when our roles will be reversed and it will be I who need them just as they once needed me. And eventually, the day will come when I will ultimately step out of their lives completely just as they once stepped into mine. This is what it means to be a father.
God says,“If you want to know what I am like… If you want a picture of how I see you and you should see me … then picture a father. Picture a loving parent who is present and available. Who wants and seeks the best for you. Who watches over you. Who cares for you. Who is always available for you. Picture me in this way.”
Except there is a difference.
Our father’s fall short in ways both great and small. We push when we should have pulled or are distant when we should have been present. And we grow old and our energies and memories and even ability to be present at all will sag and fade before being extinguished altogether. Iwrite this is not to diminish our importance so much as to recognize our limitations.
But God is different.
God is our Eternal Father. He is always present with us. There is nothing beyond His control. He does not change nor will we outgrow our need for Him. He is our Eternal Father who loves us endlessly. So let us turn to Him like a Father and enjoy Him just as he, incredibly, enjoys us. And let us continue to find our hope in Him,our Eternal Father.
(P.S. She passed!)
- Joe Welty