Friday, June 13, 2014

My Dad in the Mirror

20140404-101508.jpgAbout five years ago, I was 35, which is the age my dad was when I was 6. When I was a kid, my dad would take pity on me during the lengthier sermons at church to entertain me. He would tuck his thumb inside his fingers and allow me to attempt to pry his fingers open, thereby freeing his thumb from its bonds. It seems like that could become a raucous game during the sermon, but I guess I knew better, because it never got out of hand. Speaking of out of hand, that was the goal, but I was never able to free his thumb out of hand either. What I did do was spend hours looking at his hand–memorizing his hand. Around the time I turned 35, I looked down and saw my father’s hands attached to the ends of my arms. It was both pleasant and startling. I was pleased because I love my dad and hope that I am becoming like him in more ways than just physically. It was startling because when I was six I thought my dad was pretty old, and there I was with hands showing the signs of 35 years of use.

This morning as I was leaving for work, I stopped in front of the mirror to see if any hairs on my head were sticking up in embarrassing directions, and I used my hands to resituate my hair into a somewhat presentable arrangement. As I wiped down the cowlicks, there stood my dad in the mirror, reorganizing his mop on top before he rushed off to work. It was just plain freaky. Added to the motions of my hands and arms resembling my dad, I realized that my hair lies on my head just as his hair lies on his head. Once again, I’m not complaining, just realizing that as I age I become more and more like him.

This Sunday, I will be ordained a ruling elder at St. Mark Reformed Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. My dad is the pastor of St. Peter Presbyterian in Mendota, Virginia. He is driving in this weekend to lay hands on me as I once again become more like him, as he once again participates in reshaping me into a new man.

For forty years now, my Heavenly Father has been using my earthly father to make me the man that I’ve become. From my father’s genes that make my hands look like his and my cowlick pop up in the same place, to the habits that he’s both intentionally and inadvertently instilled in me over the decades, I am becoming more and more like him.

All this to say, “Thank you, Father,” and to say, “Thank you, father.” I know I am not here by any leverage I have over my own bootstraps. I have been blessed in time and in space by God’s gracious purposes and providences, manifest through the man on whose shoulders I still stand. I am dwelling in houses I did not build and drinking from cisterns that I didn’t dig. May God’s gracious covenant succeed through me to the next generation as it did from my father’s to me that the earth may be covered with Jesus’ glory as the waters cover the sea.

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