Sunday, June 17, 2012

Outlive Your Life!

I’ve lived 50% longer AS a father than I lived WITH my Father.

That, my friends, is an absolutely mind-blowing realization!

My little shorties are 23 & 21 now.  I’d love to think I did a decent job these last 23 & 21 years; however, my shortcomings as a Dad are many and manifest, and haunt me regularly.

Thus, my Daddying is yet another area of my life that drives me toward the Gospel.  Grace & forgiveness beyond measure!  As the song says, “Mercy there was great and grace was free…”  I’m so thankful; both of my children are far ahead of where I was at age 23 & 21.  (For that matter, they’re likely ahead of where I am now!)  That is amazing grace indeed, that God would raise up my children to be who they are, magnifying the crumbs of good that I scattered here & there as a Dad, while shattering the boulders of bad that I spread so freely.  I’m grateful that God raises our children so far beyond us!

My Dad left us 37 ½ years ago.  And there is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him in so many ways that I can’t count them.  Throughout the day, these thoughts occur: “I wonder how Dad would handle this situation” and “I sure wish Dad were here; he’d LOVE hearing about this!” and “That’s a joke Dad would love!” (etc.)  Sometimes these thoughts make me smile & even laugh; sometimes they make me shed a tear for the 87-millionth time in 37.5 years; sometimes there’s just a longing so intense that it brings a physical ache.  A longing for one more hug…to feel the 5:00 shadow in that hug…to see that smile again…most of all, to hear him say “I’m proud of who you are as a man.”  Yeah, that’s a wound that won’t heal in this life.  I’m OK with it most of the time.  But then a birthday comes along…or an anniversary…an accomplishment…even a failure…December 14…a Madaris family reunion…Father's Day...and I’m reminded again of the wound.  And am driven again toward God's matchless, amazing, sustaining grace.

It’s been said many times by me, including in this space, but here it goes again: I got more “Daddying” in 15 ½ years I had with James E. Madaris, Sr. than many get in a lifetime.  I am SO grateful for Dad & for how he fathered Jim and me & for how he loved our Mother & for how he conducted his business & for how he lived his life.  There are very few situations that come along where the life & Daddying of James E. Madaris, Sr. does not affect me, his younger son.  Even today, 37 ½ years after his faith became sight.

Which means I am all too often reminded that I am but a pale shadow of the faith & wisdom that was Dad.  I’m taller, but I do not measure up.  I’m far more educated, but am nowhere close in wisdom.  I’ve been married 8 more years than he ever will be, but am still striving to become the husband he was.  I’ve been a Dad 6 years longer than he ever was, but am not in the same universe as he in nurturing a child & being an awesome Dad.  I have a better job by most measures and have done it longer, but am still struggling to be as good at mine as he was at his.  I don’t know the date of his conversion, but I’ve likely been a Christian approximately as long as he was while here on earth; and yet I’m striving to become the Christian man & contributing church member that he was.

You may know such a man.  Perhaps, like me, you were blessed to grow up in the home of such a man.  Be thankful that God raises up such men, who outlive their earthly lives by decades.  And—I beg you!—strive to be such a man (if you’re male) and to surround yourself with such men.  They’re fewer & farther between, but they’re around.  Don’t settle for “I’m not nearly as bad a Dad & man as _____, so I’m OK.”  Keep pressing on!  And as you do, know that the grace of God will enable you to be far more than you could ever ask or imagine…for which I am most grateful myself!

If you’re an unmarried lady—don’t settle for some gutless punk who views you as his servant, a concubine, and a life support system for some particular body parts he enjoys.  There are men worthy of honor and worthy of YOU out there!  Increasingly few, but they’re there.  Wait for one of those guys; tell the tough-guy-wanna-be pansies who think procreating = fathering to hit the road.

My prayer is that we as a society—and we as people—and especially those of us who ought to know better!—will stop conflating procreating with parenting.  There is a HUGE, incalculable difference.

Happy Father’s Day to all!  If your Dad is one worth celebrating, do so!  I sure will be.  If yours is not, be thankful that there are still those who are, and if you’re male strive to become one of those, and if you’re female, wait for one of those.

 So even to old age and gray hairs,
  O God, do not forsake me,
 until I proclaim your might to another generation,
  your power to all those to come.
(Psalm 71:18 ESV) 

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