A blond-headed, blue-eyed daughter, I looked like the perfect blend of my mother and father. As others commented on the likeness, my parents smiled inwardly knowing that it was their heavenly Father who had chosen the custom matching of their adopted daughter as He had “made a home for the lonely,” (NASV) or, according to the King James Version, had set another solitary in a family (Psalm 68:6). Older when they commenced the adoption process, Oliver and Mary Ennis were willing to commit to nurturing a child. Eventually they welcomed to their home an abandoned child with pneumonia. She had lain so long on her back that the back of her head was bald—as you may have surmised, I was that abandoned child.
Many children spend many years with one or both parents. My parents knew that it would be unlikely that they would enjoy the normal number, so they maximized each to its fullest. Though both parents made a significant imprint on my character, when Father’s Day approaches I am reminded of the importance of honoring my earthly father. I know that honor means not simply outward compliance but inward respect that motivates sincere obedience; my father’s nurturing of me (Ephesians 6:1) promoted my cultivating an attitude of respect toward him—may I share several examples with you?
Love was characteristic of my father’s relationship with me. Though all of the “spiritual parenting principles” were unavailable when he was leading our family, he chose to train me by spending time with me. A busy realtor by profession, weekly he would leave his office and take me to the San Diego Zoo to participate in one of my favorite pastimes—feeding (and chasing) the peacocks. From playing games to picnics, worship to dining out as a family, my childhood was filled with rich experiences . . . and Dad usually was there. He drove for field trips, helped with Girl Scout activities, and transported me to school each day. The times in the car allowed us to talk about many things, allowing him to share life principles without preaching a sermon.
Discipline was practiced our home. Through Dad’s training I learned early that I was the loser if I pushed my will. He cared enough to say “no” and was not swayed by my tear-filled eyes. He insisted that I look into his strong blue eyes when he talked with me—whatever the topic of discussion. I will admit that there were times when I wanted to look anywhere else in the room but into his eyes! As I matured, I knew that I was being complimented when others said, “Pat has her Father’s eyes.” The transfer to look into my heavenly Father’s eyes was easy because of Dad’s early training.
Celebrations were important in the Ennis household . . . and Dad was the catalyst of many of them. I recall well the January 31st when I arrived at home and found the dining room table set with Mom’s best linen and china. Lying across my bed was a new “fancy” dress, and my favorite black patent leather shoes were awaiting my feet. I was ten. Without giving me extensive details—my parents explained many things to me but did not feel obligated to try to make a child understand all adult decisions—I was helped to dress for dinner. Dad arrived, stayed in his best suit, and a special dinner was served. He then began the explanation for the celebration—January 31st was the day that they had brought me home from the hospital, six months after my birth. I was not their birth child, but very special because they had chosen me. That evening we were celebrating the day that I joined the Ennis family. His explanation made the subsequent transition to salvation smooth. Salvation was like being adopted into God’s family. How could I not desire heavenly adoption when my earthly adoption was so wonderful?
Dad took me on my first date and taught me how a lady should be treated. He always gave me a choice about telling my male escort what time I needed to be home . . . but before I left our home the information was clearly communicated. He taught me to respect my mother, first by example, then by insistence. Both parents were conservative in clothing choices. However, there were garments I could get Mom to approve that Dad would not allow—explaining why the choice was not a good one from a man’s perspective. He affirmed the godly character and skills that my Mother possessed and encouraged me to assimilate them. Mom was an excellent cook, and my Dad ate many questionable products as I was learning to emulate her skills.
Illness took him out of the work force prematurely. Reality was that he would be fortunate to live until I graduated from high school. Yet he continued to do all that he could to prepare me for the future. He encouraged, yea, insisted on college. He taught me how to develop a budget, balance a checkbook, and complete income tax forms because he knew that much of the financial responsibility of our home would become my responsibility when he was ushered into eternity. Through all of the advanced stages of emphysema, he modeled patience and trust in his heavenly Father. The Lord granted his wish to live until I graduated from high school—Dad went home to be with Him my second day of college. Chronologically, I spent fewer years with my parents than most children do. Mother lived five years beyond Dad and realized her “yes” answer to her prayer that I would have professional employment. She joined my Father in heaven my second day of teaching; because of their careful instruction I was able to transition to placing my trust in my gracious heavenly Father (1 Peter 5:7).
You may not have the heritage of a godly Father that I have, but if you are a believer, you do have a heavenly Father who loves you even more than my earthly father loved me. Let’s review some of His qualities using an acrostic from the word FATHER and personalize it by saying, my heavenly Father is . . .
Faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Corinthians 1:9, 10:13; 1 Peter 4:19)
Available (Psalm 9:12b, 34:15b; Isaiah 58:9, 65:24; Zechariah 13:9)
My Teacher (Psalm 25:4, 27:11, 86:11, 90:12, 94:12; Isaiah 2:3, 28:9-10, 26, 17)
Holy (Leviticus 19:1-3, 20:7, 21:8; Psalm 22:3, 99:9, 145:17; Isaiah 5:16, 6:3; John 17:11)
Eternal (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2; Revelation 4:8-10)
My Refuge (Deuteronomy 33:27; 2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 9:9, 46:1, 57:1; 59:16; 71:7 94:22)
What type of relationship do you have with your earthly father? Though he may not model perfection, do you choose to honor him by affirming his positive character qualities (Philippians 4:8-9)? Do you view his weaknesses through the lens that each one possesses a potential strength and pray that he will choose to allow the Lord to transform them to strengths (Mark 10:27)? Crafting your own acrostic from the word FATHER is a helpful way to do that—here are some suggestions that are based on the relationship I shared with my father to stimulate your thought processes:
Faithful—Thank you, Dad, for your example of faithfulness.
Adopted—Thank you for integrating me into your family when no one else wanted me.
Teach—Thank you for teaching me by principle and example.
Heritage—Thank you for giving me a rich heritage of training and memories to cushion the years when I would be without family.
Endurance—Thank you for teaching me to endure, without complaining, even when the circumstances appear insurmountable. I am a finisher because you were.
Respect—Thank you for insisting that I demonstrate respect and for teaching me that submitting to authority is a way to model respect.
May I challenge you at this season to honor fathers arrives to extend gratitude to both your earthly and heavenly Father? Choosing to do so will revolutionize your life!
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
Jesus says, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “the more I recognize my dependence on God, the more thankful I become, and the deeper my love for my Father grows.”
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