In an age of equal rights and equal time, it's only fair to give dads equal attention.
For a few minutes, I'd like you to think about your father—or, perhaps, about the predominant male role model in your youth. Meditate on what that one individual has contributed to your life. Think about his influence over you, his investment in you, his cultivation of your character. Picture his face . . . the lines indelibly etched on it. Think about the tone of his voice . . . his laugh . . . those eyes . . . some unique expressions that emerge through the miracle of memory. Ponder the feeling of his hand around yours . . . his arm across your shoulders. That grip that provided a balanced blend of gentleness and determination . . . of compassion and masculinity . . . of "I understand" and "Now, straighten up!" Remember his walk. No other walk is like his, right? That inimitable stride. Arms swinging and back arched just so.
Best of all, I hope you can ponder a dad of exemplary character. The word is integrity. As you read this, pause and recall just one or two choice moments in your past when he stood alone. When he stood by you. When he stood tall against insuperable odds. When he sheltered you in a time of storm. When he protected you from the bitter blast of life's brutal blows. When he said, "It's okay—I forgive you" instead of, "You ought to be ashamed!"
In the memory of such a legacy that time can never erase, give God thanks. That's all. Just thank the Giver of every good and perfect gift for the meaningful marks your dad branded on the core of your character . . . the wholesome habits he took the time to weave into the fabric of your life. While meandering through this forest of nostalgia, pause and lean on the great oak named Proverbs. Look closely and reflect on the words the wise man carved into its bark twenty-nine centuries ago:
The godly walk with integrity;
blessed are their children who follow them. (Proverbs 20:7 NLT)
Ah, how true!
Our Lord declares that you are the beneficiary in a perpetual, paternal policy. For the balance of your life, you will receive dividends from your father's wise and sacrificial investments in "integrity stock." Most of those dividends were unknown and unclaimed until you were grown. How many of us now find ourselves richly endowed!
Your dad is not perfect; he would be the first to admit it. Nor is he infallible, much to his own regret. 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. And frankly, there's only one thing he needs from you today—plain and simple—he needs to hear you say four words:
"I love you, Dad."
That's the best gift you can give. If you give him your love, you can keep all the other stuff. If you were to ask him, the gift of your love is the most valuable gift of all.