There is only one perfect Father and that is the Father of lights “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” James 1:17. But that does not mean that there are not fathers worthy of our respect and admiration.
The father of the author of these devotionals was born in Clown’s Cove, Freshwater, Carbonear, Newfoundland. His parents had been brought to faith in Jesus in a ripple effect of the Welsh revival of 1904. The village of Freshwater was a fishing community of Welsh immigrants and when the revival hit in Wales, a preacher from there came to the village to preach the Gospel. I am a third generation spiritual descendant of the Welsh revival and all four of my children are the fourth. Some have said that revival didn’t produce any long term effects. My family is living proof that that is not true.
My father was not the perfect father. But he let us know growing up that we needed Jesus. And he showed us through a life of prayer, faithfulness, tenacious adherence to the Word of God, and compassion for hurting people, what God can do in and through sinners saved by great grace.
If you met my father for only a few minutes you would come away impressed with his tenderness, godliness and humility. It oozed out his pores. Some who knew him for a long time called him great. He may have responded by saying that he was not great. He may have agreed with you. But he would not let it end there. He would complete the compliment by saying that if he was great it was because a great God had made him so and he would make you great too if you would submit yourself to Him. He believed that in Christ we can do anything and that without Him we can do nothing.
I said in a devotional the other day that fathers should do their devotions with their doors open so that their children could see them at it. This was what I grew up with. My father kept a study in our home where he prepared sermons and did his reading. I can remember as a young boy walking past that study and seeing my father on his knees praying. I remember him taking me to pre-service prayer meetings at the church he pastored in Sackville New Brunswick and hearing him pour out his heart to the God he loved. Years later I sat in a prayer meeting with him as a fellow pastor and marvelled at the sense of the presence of God in the room when that man prayed. He was conversing with Someone he knew deeply, personally, intimately. To see that 6’4″, 250 lb. frame, full of arthritis, creek down to its knees and talk to his Friend was a gift from the perfect Father to me so that I could see what grace can do in a man. My father was told by the leaders of his church once that he was not welcome any more as their pastor because he had said in a sermon: “Instead of sitting on your fannies you should be on your knees in prayer.” I am so glad that he said that, that he meant it, and that he was not making demands on his people that he was not making of himself.
My father was an old fashioned Fundamentalist, hell fire and grace preacher. His face would turn crimson when he preached against the sins that he longed for his people to abandon. It was frightening for a young boy to sit through one of his messages. But one of my favourite memories in relation to his preaching is this: after he would preach those terrifyingly feel-the-heat-of-hell sermons with his face almost purple and his fist pounding the pulpit, I would run to the door of the church as he greeted people. I can still see his wide open arms encouraging me to come and his huge body scooping me up in a loving hug that told me I was greatly loved. I feared nothing when I was in that place of safety. I was glad that that giant of a man hated sin because I knew he would not tolerate anyone hurting me. It is a great thing to be loved by someone powerful who will use his power for your protection and good. For all my dad’s imperfections, he showed me the Fatherhood of a great loving God who hates sin and yet loves me and won’t allow anything into my life except that which will ultimately benefit me.
There are several things that my father and I disagreed about theologically. Once, when I preached in his church and said something that he wasn’t quite sure was right, he went home after the sermon and sat down and studied the passage I had preached from. After about two hours he got up, came over to me and said “that was a good message”. He wouldn’t give me the compliment until he had checked it out in the Scriptures. This is what I am most grateful for in my father. He taught me this great truth – the Bible is true.
My father has been gone for almost ten years. I wish he were here. But I have a better Father who is still with me. I love Him because the father God gave me was faithful in his beliefs and commitment to the Scriptures.
Have a Happy Father’s Day. Be a gift from God to your children. They will always thank you for it and more importantly, they will thank God.