By Henrylito D. Tacio
If you ask me who my favorite author is, my answer would be plenty. And one of them is Erma Bombeck. In Sunlight of the Spirit, she shares this story:
When the good Lord was creating fathers, he started with a tall frame. A female angel nearby said, “What kind of a father is that? If you’re going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put the father up so high? He won’t be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending, or even kiss a child without stooping.” God smiled and said, “Yes, but if I make him child size, who would children have to look up to?”
And when God made a father’s hands, they were large. The angel shook her head and said, “Large hands can’t manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on pony tails, or even remove splinters caused from baseball bats.” Again God smiled and said, “I know, but they’re large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets, yet small enough to cup a child’s face in them.”
Then God molded long slim legs and broad shoulders, “Do you realize you just made a father without a lap?” The angel chuckled. God said, “A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, to balance a boy on a bicycle, or to hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus.”
When God was in the middle of creating the biggest feet any one had ever seen, the angel could not contain herself any longer. “That’s not fair. Do you honestly think those feet are going to get out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries, or walk through a birthday party without crushing one or two of the guests?” God again smiled and said, “They will work. You will see. They will support a small child who wants to scare mice away from a summer cabin, or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill.”
God worked throughout the night, giving the father few words, but a firm authoritative voice; eyes that see everything, but remain calm and tolerant. Finally, almost as an after thought, He added tears. Then he turned to the angel and said, “Now are you satisfied he can love as much as a mother can?”
The angel said nothing more.
An unknown author once penned, “The greatest gift I ever had / Came from God; I call him Dad!”
“The father who would taste the essence of his fatherhood must turn back from the plane of his experience, take with him the fruits of his journey and begin again beside his child, marching step by step over the same old road,” said Angelo Patri.
Harmon Killebrew shares this anecdote: “My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass.’ My dad would reply, ‘We’re not raising grass. We’re raising boys.”
Had it not been for a father, children would be lost. “The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity,” Jean Paul Richter observed.
“Train up a child in the way he should go,” the Bible urged, “and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverb 22:6). More often than not, it’s the father’s responsibility to train his child – whether a son or a daughter. Inspirational author Chuck Swindoll advises, “Cultivate your own capabilities, your own style. Appreciate the members of your family for who they are, even though their outlook or style may be miles different from yours. Rabbits don’t fly. Eagles don’t swim. Ducks look funny trying to climb. Squirrels don’t have feathers. Stop comparing. There’s plenty of room in the forest.”
Of course, you probably heard of the words “father figure.” In most cases, boys want to be like their father (and girls want to marry someone like their father). Why is this so? Roy Z. Kemp theorizes, “Small boys expect their fathers to be walking lexicons, to do two jobs at once, to give replies as they are working, whether laying stones or building models, digging up a shrub, or planting flower beds. Boys have a right to ask their fathers questions. Fathers are the powers that be, and with their power and might must shelter, guard, and hold and teach and love. All men with sons must learn to do these things. Too soon, too soon, a small son grows and leaves his father’s side to test his manhood’s wings.”
Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth’s rite of passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone.
He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is no longer a boy but a man. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own.
The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man!
Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.
We, too, are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, our Father up in heaven is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.
American statesman Benjamin Franklin himself admitted, “The longer I live the more convinced I become that God governs in the affairs of men. And have we now forgotten that powerful father? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance.”
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