Today I was missing my family, and as I spent some time thinking about them and praying for them I was inspired to start a little series of posts in their honor. I realized today as I talked to God about my family members, that each one of them has taught me about different aspects of who HE is.
So I'll start with my Dad.
My Dad is a teacher and football coach at Kingwood High School, in a suburb of Houston, TX. He started out teaching and coaching right out of college, then went full time into ministry with Young Life for something like 20 years, and has only recently gone back to teaching and coaching in the last couple of years. The reason I'm telling you what my dad does for a living is because you can learn something important about him by knowing what he does: he's got a huge heart for high school kids. Such a huge heart for them that he's basically been in high school his whole life.
I've always admired my dad's heart for people. All people, really. I'm really not sure if I've ever seen a better example than he is of what it looks like to love like Jesus. I think a lot of the reason for that is because he has such a heart for the lost. Most parents like to make sure their kids are staying away from "those people" ... you know the people I'm talking about. The ones your mom wouldn't let you hang out with, and if she heard you were seen with them, you were grounded. My dad, though, has asked me on multiple occasions if I'm spending just as much time with people who need Jesus as I am with people who already know him.
How many times have your parents called and said, "Hey, how many heathens have you hung out with this week? None? Oh, you should probably get on that."
When I was in high school my dad was on Young Life staff. He led the YL club I attended every Monday night for four years, and he met weekly with most of my guy friends. Basically, I went to high school with my dad. And I think at times that got on my nerves (as it would any teenager). At times I just wanted to blend in and know that my dad didn't know every single thing about every single person I ever hung out with. Sometimes I wanted to walk into the lunch room and not see my dad sitting at the next table with a bunch of my friends. Haha.
But one day when I was probably sixteen I had a conversation with a friend who changed my perspective on my dad forever. This friend of mine, she had a pretty broken home life. Her dad had cheated on her mom and left their family, and as you can imagine it was just a hard season for her and her mom and siblings. One day she and I had been at my house... we got in the car to leave, and I guess my dad had just done something goofy that we were laughing about. And she said, "I love your dad. I wish he was my dad."
Man, those two sentences hit me pretty hard. All I could say back was, "Well, I'd love to share him with you."
And at the time I think it just seemed like the right response to her comment about my dad. But looking back, what I said to her was pretty profound. I don't think I realized when those words came out of my mouth what I was learning at that moment. In fact, I don't think I learned it until much later.
When I was seventeen, my best friend's dad died. Her dad also happened to be my dad's best friend. It was a pretty hard time for all of us... and later that year, my friend who had lost her dad came to live with my family. Because she needed a dad, and I had one that I could share with her. Her living with us didn't last long and it's kind of a long story how she ended up leaving, but to this day she would tell you that if there's any man in her life who she still looks at as a father figure, it's my dad. In fact, she told me that just last week. I love that though she probably doesn't take advantage of it often, he would be there for her if ever she needed him. I love that I get to share my dad with her.
My dad has taught me not only how to love like Jesus, but how to share the love of Jesus. And he's taught me how to share Jesus simply by being a dad that I want to share with other people.
I was reminded of that this morning as I sat in church thinking about how I miss him, and how it's about to be football season. See, what happens to football coaches' families during football season is this: football wives and football children become football widows and football orphans. (OK, so that might be a harsh term. But let's just go with it for the sake of making a point) From August to November, Dad's a pretty busy guy. School all day, practices in the afternoons and evenings, freshman games on Thursdays, varsity games on Fridays. Film watching and coaches meetings on the weekends. And then it starts all over! Needless to say, Dad and I play a lot of phone tag during the fall.
But this morning I thought, "Gosh, so many high school kids get to be so blessed by my dad. They get to be so loved on. They get to experience a love that's bigger than they ever imagined, because my Dad loves to love on people with the love of Jesus. I'm glad I get to share him with them."
And then I started thinking about how this should be the same way we feel about God. We should have the mentality of, "I can't wait to share my Dad with everyone I encounter. I can't wait for them to experience the love He has to give."
That's essentially what Jesus did. Whether it was the religious, the lost, the blind, the sick, the rich, the poor, Jews, Gentiles, men, women... I feel like Jesus, no matter who it was he was interacting with, just wanted to ask people, "Do you know who my Dad is? I want to share him with you."
I love that. I love that I have an earthly Dad who I've always enjoyed sharing with other people. And I love that no matter what our earthly dads our like, we all share a Heavenly Dad who we get to share with others.
That is a gift.