Several years ago, Shaun Cunningham treated his son Landon to a spring training baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Pittsburg Pirates. Landon was looking at his dad’s cell phone sending pictures of the action to his mom when, suddenly, Pittsburg’s Danny Ortiz swung hard and lost his bat, propelling it into the stands.
Instantly, the bat was heading right toward Landon’s head when, instinctively, Shaun stretched out his hand to shield his son, deflecting the twirling bat. A photographer caught the moment, and his picture immediately went viral. Father and son even appeared on The Today Show the next morning.
I thought about the obvious parallel. If an earthly father’s instinct causes him to put himself in harm’s way to protect his son from imminent danger, then how much more will our heavenly Father protect us?
Psalm 28:7 reads, “The Lord is my strength and my shield, in Him my heart trusts.”
Shielding our children as best we can is one responsibility of a wonderful, caring father. Will Graham, grandson of Billy Graham and son of Franklin Graham, shared about the challenges and the blessings of growing up Graham. He appreciated the way his dad attempted to protect his family.
“Since his birth, he (Franklin) has lived with high expectations as the son of Billy Graham, and he was determined to not place a similar burden on his children. Rather, he shielded us” (from outside pressures and expectations).
Wonderful dads also bless their families with godly guidance. Sometimes that guidance is more caught than taught.
When newspaper editor Lynn Clayton was in college, he worked on the wheat harvest one summer, driving combines all day, seven days a week. It was the hardest work he’d ever done. One of his neighbors had recruited him and was his crew chief.
When he got home at summer’s end, all he wanted to do was sleep, but the second day, his father came to his room and said, “Get dressed, son. I want you to go with me somewhere.”
They climbed into the truck and drove about 20 miles. Clayton had no idea where they were going. They drove into the yard of the crew chief. The dad knocked and the man came to the door.
The father stuck out his hand and said, “I just want to thank you for taking care of my son.”
With that, he walked off the porch and drove the 20 miles back home.
Clayton stated, “You talk about making an impression on a boy about how important he was to his father!” Not to mention demonstrating the importance of always expressing gratitude.
Walking closely with God and giving spiritual leadership are also priorities for wonderful dads who serve and trust the Lord. A new pastor was visiting church members to get acquainted. At one home the husband was out, so the pastor visited with the wife briefly.
Later that night they were talking about the visit and the wife said, “The pastor asked an interesting question. He asked, ‘Does Jesus live in our home?’”
The husband was quite upset and replied, “Didn’t you tell him that we are the most substantial givers in the church? That we are charter members? That we are there every time the doors are open?”
The wife gently responded, “No, that’s not what he asked. He asked if Jesus lived in our home.”
Does Jesus live in your home? Dads, does King Jesus rule in your heart? Do you walk closely with the Lord?
Three school-age boys were talking and one bragged, “My daddy is really important. He knows the mayor.”
The second said, “Well, that’s nothing. My dad knows the governor.”
The third very confidently claimed, “Well, my dad knows God.”
I’m thankful my dad knew God and did his best to raise us four boys in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He lived a Christ-centered life, taught us the importance of participating in church life, and set a great example. I was blessed with a wonderful father. I pray my children can say the same thing.
Evangelist Billy Graham once said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” Dads, are you a blessing to your children?
[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org for more information on the church and www.davidchancey.com to see more of Chancey’s writings, including his books.]