A Lesson in Consequences
by Bob Helvey
As I remember my dad on Father’s Day, I can’t help but recall how he taught me there are always consequences to misused anarchy—that for the son of an officer, courtesy to elders, respect of rank, and especially completion of duty are the essence of proven character and self-respect.
Completion of duty became etched into my mind one cold winter's night in Virginia when, as an often irresponsible 10-year-old boy, I arrived home uncommonly early from my newspaper route.
“That was quick!” Dad commented. “Yeah, sure was,” I replied and tried to hurriedly pass by so he wouldn’t ask me any questions.
A few moments later, Dad asked me to get my coat. I knew that he had somehow learned that I had not delivered my newspapers. I started explaining to him that a mighty gust of wind had blown the papers in a thousand different directions. I explained that they were irretrievable and were probably floating down the Potomac. Upon hearing my defense he said only one sentence: “Meet me in the car.”
Obedient in form, but definitely not in spirit, I followed Dad and found myself driving with him to the very place where the wind had caused my newspapers to take flight. I was so relieved when I didn’t see any scattered papers … but that sense of relief didn’t last long.
Dad and I were greeted by a man who welcomed us into his home and led us to a sight I have never been able to erase from my mind. There, filling his living room, were the chaotic dissected contents of what were once scores of neatly folded newspapers. I was shocked and speechless.
The three of us spent the next hour or so resurrecting the newspapers. “Here's a sports section.” “Anyone seen a classified?”
After they were all reassembled (and after a piercing glance from my dad), I thanked the man earnestly. Dad then drove me to a grocery store where I bought some newspapers to replace the unsalvageable ones, and I proceeded to complete the route with Dad as my personal chauffeur.
It was a little annoying that he didn't give me a lecture. But after all, he knew he didn't have to.
Many years ago, Dad finally revealed how he had the uncanny ability to go directly to the newspaper-filled house. The neighbor who helped us assemble the papers had called my father and told him his “good for nothing” son had reigned havoc on his yard. Together they conspired to teach a young boy a lifelong lesson.
It worked. The neighbor must have been a father too.
by Matt Burns
Several years ago I gave my dad a unique gift for his birthday: two tickets to see his favorite team, Notre Dame, play their biggest rival, USC, in South Bend, Ind.
Since Dad had been recently diagnosed with leukemia, I didn’t know how many more years I would have with him. He couldn’t believe it when he opened up the card with the tickets.
On the morning of my dad’s 64th birthday, we had some time to read and pray before the big game. Dad said he had been thinking lately of the words, “I desire compassion (mercy) and not sacrifice.” I found the passage in Matthew 9, and I suggested we read the whole chapter together. I could hardly believe my ears, because in that chapter there are at least five accounts of Jesus healing people. I read Jesus’ words to the blind men, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28).
I told Dad that I thought God had led us to this particular chapter in Matthew. I said that I thought He wanted me to ask him, “Do you believe that I am able to do this for you?”
Dad responded, “Absolutely! If He wants to do it.”
I said, “Well, let’s ask Him.”
So I knelt down by the bed where Dad was resting. I laid my hands on him and prayed for God to heal him. (By God’s grace, Dad was in remission for seven years.)
Still kneeling by his bed, I continued the conversation:
“Dad, there’s one more thing … I want you to bless me.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just put your hands on me and pray a prayer of blessing over me.”
“I’m not sure how to do that.”
“It’s not real complicated. Just put your hands on me and ask God to bless me!”
Dad sat up and prayed the most awesome prayer. How I wish I had a tape recorder! But it didn’t matter. It went something like this:
God, I thank You for Matthew. I thank You for blessing him with a beautiful, godly wife and children.
I ask that You would be with him the rest of his life. I ask that You would help him to stay on the right path and that You will bless his work and ministry.
I pray that You will bless his marriage, his children, and their children. Help him to always follow You and to love You and to know that You are always with him.
And help him to know how proud his mother and I are of him. Amen.
Those words went straight to my heart. Just hearing him say how proud he was of me … asking that God would give me and my family a good future … well, it changed my life.
Not a Stepdad, but a Father
by Bonnie J. Sterling
My mom was brought up on the island of Guam. She was married at 20 and moved stateside, Arizona specifically, where I was born a year later. Unfortunately, youth and culture shock led my mother through a few turbulent years and relationships.
I was about 4 years old when my mom met my dad. I very clearly remember our first special day. He took me and my younger sister outside to play. After several rousing games of chase and horsey, he set me and my sister on his knees and asked us if we would like him to be our dad. We excitedly said yes. On November 4, 1980, Lee Charles Baltezore became my daddy.
Over the next 13 years that I lived at home, I watched as he worked from sunup to sundown to provide for his family. We lived in a small agricultural town, where he moved from farm to farm as he could find work. I’m quite proud to say that people who know my dad will attest to his hard work and honesty.
Because farm life is unrelenting, he didn’t have much time to spend with us kids. But the times we had are some of my most precious memories. Things like fishing, camping, or just playing ball in the yard became magnified in their significance just because Dad had little time off to spend with his family.
As a young girl with memories of some of my mother’s previous relationships, I really needed the love and encouragement I received from my father. I remember a few times when he’d come home before I’d gone to bed. I’d still be practicing my parts for the school choir competition. I’d ask him to come and listen (he never had the opportunity to attend school events), and he’d listen with a smile on his face and tell me how beautiful it sounded.
When I was interested in poetry, he wrote me a poem:
I thank God above
For giving me you to love.
Roses are red; violets are blue.
That’s just to say that I love you.
He apologized that it was not well written, but to me, his verses were Shakespeare.
My dad is a remarkable man. He’s the source of bear hugs, tickle fights, and quiet encouragement. He’s a man whose approval I’m proud to have. My dad is the reason I have an overwhelming love for God.
As I think about Father’s Day, I am thankful to my heavenly Father for the gift of my earthly father. I am truly blessed.
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