Father's Day is a mixed day for me. On the one hand I reflect on my own father, who died when I was 14. Dad was a great man in my eyes. He only completed the 8th grade but was full of traditional wisdom. Few people I've known knew their Bibles as well as he knew his. He worked hard all his life, often 16 hrs a day. He was what we call today a "bi-vocational" pastor. He served as pastor of a small church on the edge of town and had a paint contracting business. Dad encouraged all of us to get a good education--something he never enjoyed the benefits of. He emphasized learning proper English, math skills, and history.
My dad's passions were the Bible and Baptist history. Granted, my dad grew up in a generation saturated with Trail of Blood landmarkism as the lens through which all church history was interpreted. His Bible was the 1906 C. I. Scofield Reference Bible. He would have nothing to do with the revised Scofield Bible that came out in the late 1960s. All attempts at modern language translations were, to him, a corruption of the Bible. From my dad I learned to love and trust as inerrant and authoritative God's word, and I learned to love Baptist history, even if we would not see eye to eye on every point now.
Dad taught me the value of hard work. From a very early age I worked, helping in my spare time with painting houses and learning the trade. He encouraged each of us to learn other skills as well. In addition he encouraged me as I went out in the neighborhood mowing lawns in the summer. Work was a part of life for us, and we never resented it.
He loved music, had a ringing bass voice and could sing almost to the bottom of the piano keyboard. I'm still envious of his voice. He learned music in a day when people learned by "shaped" notes rather than "round" notes. He could not read lines and spaces on a score but knew pitches by the shape of the note (each note in the scale has a different shape). I learned to love music from my dad.
Dad loved the outdoors. He loved fishing the most, but he also taught us to hunt. Gun safety was a big issue with Dad because his Uncle John Land was killed as a result of a hunting accident. Every year, at the beginning of hunting season, Dad would tell us how Uncle John reached behind the seat of his Model T truck, grabbed his .22 by the muzzle thinking it was unloaded, and the trigger hung on a spring and it went off. Uncle John lay in a hospital in an "iron lung" for two weeks before finally dying. Dad would talk about sitting on a bench outside the hospital on a moonlit night, listening to the sound of the iron lung and Uncle John fighting for his life. What did we learn from that? Two things. First, no gun is ever "unloaded." Secondly, a gun can get you killed. Treat it with respect.
Most of all I learned that spending time with God, my wife, and my kids is more important than time spent at work. Work will always be there. My kids will be grown and gone some day. God's word is my treasure, and my wife is the one who makes me complete. What's the point of working 60--80 hours a week if you miss seeing your kids grow up, your wife becomes a stranger, and the Bible is squeezed out of your schedule? Thanks, Dad, for some great life-lessons.