I was asked to speak in church today for Father's Day. I was stumped for a bit, because all I could think about was what makes Pat a good dad, which isn't the sort of thing you get up and say as a tribute to all the dads in the room. Besides that, I realized that not everyone in the room would be a good dad in the ways Pat is (not that they are not praiseworthy in their own ways in some cases or beyond redemption in others...). So, while it left me at a quandry as to what to say for father's day to everyone, I became quite thankful that Pat is my husband and the father of my child.
As many of you know, Pat came to Christ out of addiction. And God filled the selfish place that had been in his heart with the gift of service. That is the first thing I thought about Pat being a great dad: he is such a servant. Pat serves Israel and me as well as a host of others and he does not consider himself above doing so in the most mundane of ways. He is the one who changes the majority of poopy diapers around here. (Or at least he does the preliminary cleaning of most of them, since we use cloth. Yuck!) Pat is not one of those dads who wants to come home and be fed and only engage his child when it's convenient. Even now, Pat is in the living room loving Israel and me by taking care of him while he is sick -- rubbing Israel's back as Israel sleeps on his chest. Last night, Pat was right there, consoling and caring for Israel when he woke up screaming with a fever. I suppose one of us alone could've done the trick in getting Israel into a bath at 1:30am, but we all were there together. In the evenings, it's not uncommon for me to find Pat covered in Israel drool and Israel covered in dirt. Pat is not put-off by Israel's spitting-up and will enter into just about any mess with Israel. He's kind of like Jesus like that.
Pat also is a wonderful husband. And that in no means can be separated from his being a wonderful dad. He is kind and helpful to me and respectful of me and he cares about my needs. I know there are many, many families where this could not be said, but if Israel grows up to be someone's husband in the way his father is, we all will be proud.
And that's what I talked about in church. I talked about imitating. Israel already tries to imitate the noises his dad makes; he likes to try to beat-box with him. And fathers are there to be imitated. Boys should be able to grow up to be like their dads and that should be a wonderful thing. Jesus was always doing "only what he saw his Father doing." Earthling fathers are to do no less. And then, if things go according to plan, when their children imitate them, they will find themselves looking to their heavenly Father as well.