It goes without saying that we never really understand the dynamics of the relationship we had with our parents until we are old enough and experienced enough to gain proper perspective. When I think back to my young childhood I am (uselessly) abashed at the total lack of understanding I had of my father. He worked long hours for long years at a job that represented no kind of dream for him and we five kids lined up to consume his paycheck and break all his stuff! That, of course, is not the whole of the story either – simply a strand I was incapable of grasping at the time. And, unless it was accidental on my part, I did nothing to make his life easier at the time. Later, as I understood more, I did better. Sadly, I must confess that I worked a lot harder to be a blessing to dad after I was out of the house than before. I suspect I am far from alone in this. In the last few years of his life, when his strength failed, all dad’s adult children worked tirelessly to help him remain as active as possible, as comfortable as possible and as engaged as possible for as long as possible. Dad took a yen to have some ducks around and duck eggs to eat. None of us even cared why? I built a coop and put up a pen. My older sister got six peeps (Campbells’s – egg layers) and raised them in her garage until they were old enough to occupy the coop. All siblings made whatever improvements were necessary as time went by, fed and watered the ducks, gathered the eggs, learned the best ways to cook with them, etc. It was but one thing. When dad could no longer make it to the woods we went and took pictures of the recent doings of the beavers, deer, snapping turtles, etc. My youngest sister is a nurse and kept on top of the increasing medical demands, giving the rest of us the training we needed. All my sisters went to great lengths learning to cook for dad’s specialized dietary needs. We built a new deck with a ramp to ease the process of getting to the car. My younger brother did the lion’s share of the home repairs. We trimmed and removed trees and repaired the leaky roof. We learned to do physical therapy and therapeutic wraps. We mowed, gardened, and kept the roads hot between dad’s house and the pharmacy, grocery, hardware…. Our only wish was that we could have done more. When absolutely no more could be done, we gathered round his bed and stayed till the time came to say goodbye. We experienced in those times, a fierce determination to bless our father. It was, as Dickens would have it, the best and the worst of times.
My experiences with my earthly father mirror my experiences with my Heavenly Father in at least this one way. There was a time when I was only concerned about being blessed by God. I still am concerned with that. I desire earnestly to be blessed by God. But I also wish to bless God – a thought that did not enter into my earlier calculations. It never even occurred to me that I could! God had everything to give and what could He possibly need from me?! Well, we learn better. Even though He never ages, fails, nor dies, God is a father after all and every father can be blessed by His children.
As we come to a new year, if we are goal setters/resolution makers let us try getting alongside the ambitions of the Apostle Paul who said – Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. II Corinthians 5:9
Let us spend 2021 in a grand effort to please God.
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Minister of Indian Run Christian Church