In an age of equal rights and equal time, it seems only fair to give dads equal attention.
Moms get the lion's share of the parenting accolades, and let's be honest—they deserve every bit they receive. Too often though, dads get lost in the shuffle. So for the next few moments, move over, ladies . . . make way for the men; in fact, a very select group of men: fathers.
At those times when families traditionally honor dads—on his birthday, at Christmas, or on some other special day, the eyes and ears of children and spouses perk up. They scan store windows, watch television commercials, flip through newspaper ads, and undertake furious Internet searches. Our families wonder whether to wrap us in robes, fill us with food, surprise us with skis, tickle us with tools, or just cover us with kisses. If I know dads, most of 'em blush no matter what you do. They are so used to providing, receiving is a little weird. Occasionally, it is downright embarrassing! Most dads are quick to say to their families (with pardonable pride):
"Look, just sit back and relax . . . and leave the striving to us!"
For the next several minutes, think about your father, okay? Meditate on what that one individual has contributed. Think about his influence over you, his investment in you, his insights to you. Study his face . . . the lines that are now indelibly etched in your mind. Listen again to the echo of his voice . . . that infectious laugh . . . those unique expressions that emerge through the miracle of memory. Feel his hand wrapped around yours . . . his strong, secure arm across your shoulders. Remember his grip that once communicated a balanced mixture of gentleness and determination, compassion and masculinity . . . not only his, "I understand," but also his, "Now, straighten up!" Watch his walk. There is no other walk like his, is there? Those sure steps. That inimitable stride. Arms swinging and back arched . . . head tilted just so.
Best of all, take time to recall his exemplary character. The word is integrity. As you read this, pause and remind yourself of just one or two choice moments in your past when he stood alone, when he stood by you . . . when he stood against insurmountable odds . . . when he provided that shelter in your time of storm. When he protected you from the bitter blast of life's harsh consequences. When he chose to say, "Honey, I forgive you," instead of, "Why, you ought to be ashamed!" What wonderful memories!
In the wake of such a legacy which time can never erase, give God thanks. Thank the Giver of every good and perfect gift for the meaningful marks your dad has branded on the core of your character . . . the wholesome habits he has woven into the fabric of your flesh. While meandering through this forest of nostalgia, stop at the great oak named Proverbs and reflect upon the words the wise man carved into its bark 29 centuries ago:
A righteous man who walks in his integrity—
How blessed are his sons [and daughters] after him. (Proverbs 20:7)
How very true! How blessed you are!
Our Lord declares that you are the beneficiary in a perpetual, paternal policy. For the balance of your life, you receive the dividends from your father's wise and sacrificial investments in "integrity stock." Most of those dividends were unknown and unclaimed until you grew up and became aware of your inheritance. You may not have realized until recently how richly endowed you really are!
Your dad is not perfect; painful though it is, he would be the first to admit it. Nor is he infallible, much to his own disappointment. Nor altogether fair . . . nor always right. But there's one thing he is—always and altogether—he is your dad . . . the only one you'll ever have. Take it from me, when the time comes for gift-giving, there's only one thing he needs. Plain and simple, he needs to hear you say,
"Dad, I love you."
That's the best gift you can give. If you give him your love, you can forget all the other stuff that comes with a price tag. Nothing you could buy will bring him anywhere near the satisfaction that four-word gift will provide.
As you consider a gift for dad when his special day comes around, look him in the eye or call him on the phone and give him the gift he needs more than anything.
Give him your love.