We were well into the book signing. Despite the rain pouring like we were in Panama, not Center City Philadelphia, people were still coming out to get their books signed. I was with Pastor Eric Mason and excited to help him launch his new book, Manhood Restored, this past week at our stores in the Philadelphia area. Just as he finished signing a book, the door of the bookstore opened and a little boy came in and Wow! did he look sharp. He had on a dress shirt and tie, but what stood out most was his hat.
It quickly became obvious that this little guy was one of Eric’s two sons. He quickly went over to his dad and you knew he was loved by the way Eric embraced him. A few minutes later we decided to take a family picture. As it turns out the son is a lot like his father. Eric quickly pulled on his jacket and popped on his hat and what a great picture the family made. I have a feeling I know where this little boy gets his fashion sense from.
We men can be like that. No matter what it looks like on the outside, most of us really have a built-in gene that makes us want to be like our Dad. For some of us it may have been the first time we saw him dress up and we wanted to look like that. For others of us it may have been the way that he laughed and captivated an audience and we wanted that kind of attention. It may have been that moment that we knew he really loved and cared for our mom no matter what and we wanted to love someone just a little bit like that too.
For me, it was all of those things and more. My Dad, however, had one special relationship that always made me a little jealous. When I was really young, I did not understand why he spent so much time reading one book, writing notes, praying, teaching and talking about Jesus. It almost seemed like overkill. We had family devotions almost every day and somehow I knew that my Dad had found the one thing that made his life truly meaningful. I couldn’t compete with this person who had so captivated his life. While I knew that my Dad loved me, I knew that he loved someone else even more.
The older I get, the more that this crazy relationship with Jesus makes sense to me. Ironically, some people say that I now look a lot more like my Dad. Since he hasn’t lost much hair and I am balding fast, it must be something about our ever expanding and contracting waist lines that they are referring to. There are many things about my Dad that I do aspire to – his love for people, his tendency to see the best in others, and his deep desire to be an encourager just like Barnabus in the Bible. Most of all, however, I desire to know Jesus like He does.
As I think about my relationship with my Heavenly Father, I am not always sure that I want to be just like that Dad. He loved me enough to give up his son to die in my place. The truth is I still don’t fully understand the story of Abraham and Isaac. I mean I understand what the Bible says happened; I just have a hard time believing that any real Dad would do that to their son. I am pretty sure I would have spent a long time looking for the ram in the bush before I tied up Kenny or Mike. Even then, it would have taken a whole lot a faith for me to point a knife at them and prepare to sacrifice them on an altar.
This life of faith seems pretty messed up sometimes. I am supposed to die so I can live, to surrender so I can win, to love my enemy and hate my family. What is that all about anyway? Being just like that Dad can seem pretty weird when I really think about it. I am fine with owning the cattle on a thousand hills and having the power to create by speaking things into existence, but letting my son die for someone else’s sin doesn’t feel like something I want to aspire to. The more I ponder this truth, the more it makes my head spin.
The reality is that Jesus had a special relationship with His father. It was one of complete trust and obedience. Even as He sweat drops of blood and asked for His Dad to reconsider what was about to happen to Him, He prepared himself to be led to the cross like a lamb to the slaughter. He never asked why, He simply obeyed. I may not want to be just like my Heavenly Father and give up what is most precious to me, but He knows that and loves me anyway. What a great Dad He is!