When I read “The Objects of His Affection”**, I was in the states visiting family, and experiencing the reality that along with being the object of my Heavenly Father’s affection, I’m also the object of my earthly father’s affection. When he greets me, there is a warmth in his voice and a smile on his face, and I know he is glad to see me. It makes me feel so valued. And it’s a wonderful picture of how God welcomes us home.**
My father has loved me well, in so many ways. He always focuses on the good things I do, and gracefully overlooks my shortcomings, a model of how love covers a multitude of sins.** He encouraged me to do whatever interested me. When I became an adult, he was always ready to loan me money, no questions asked. He didn’t judge my choices, or the choices of my four brothers.
By his example, I learned reverence, saying grace at every meal. I learned faithfulness as we went to church every single Sunday, and I would watch him bowing his head and repeating the Apostle’s Creed. He suffered a tremendous loss but did not become bitter after my mother died. He remarried and loved well again, [going on 54 years].
He worked two jobs to provide for his five children, teaching junior high math all week, and then on Saturday getting up at 5 AM and working all day at the post office. Sundays, we we went to the early church service so we could drive out to my grandparents for the rest of the day, returning home after supper. He must have gotten tired, but he never complained. In fact, I remember him singing songs as we drove home in the dark.** In his spare time, he paid the bills, and did the grocery shopping, always coming home with a bargain or store special, showing me how to be thrifty.
He modeled a concern for the oppressed and a sense of justice. In the 60s, living in a town with a total of two African-American families, he still joined the local branch of the NAACP** and worked for equal housing in the area. When an African-American family in a nearby town was told there were no apartments available, he went and proved that wasn’t true by asking to rent one.
He taught me hospitality by hosting [along with my mother of course] African exchange students, once for an entire school year. He taught me honesty. He taught me forgiveness and not holding a grudge. He taught me how to live in a wealthy town and yet resist succumbing to materialism and greed. He taught me practicality and foresight: after he remarried when I was two, he chose to move to the wealthy town because it gave full tuition scholarships to residents at the local all-women’s college. 16 years later, I ended up going there, and graduated without any college loans to pay off. After I left home, he continued to serve me. When he came to visit, he cleaned my oven. He babysat for our daughters. One night, he drove 2 hours to come pick me up after my car had broken down.
He modeled a fruitful post-retirement life by helping to start a vocational school in the area and helping the elderly with their taxes every year. He enjoyed life too, singing in an all-male glee club and traveling to Europe every year, and going to Elderhostels in the states.
He’s not perfect, of course, but whatever his faults, he has always loved me unconditionally, no strings attached, no expectations to meet. I’m so thankful for such a wise and loving earthly father.
**Links and notes
Objects of His Affection
**But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:21
**Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8
**Aba Daba Honeymoon, one of my father’s favorites
**The NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] is a one-hundred year old civil rights organization.
**This expression comes from a Margo Hennebach song, On Preacher’s Hill, about her aging father-in-law. “Mark’s dad is older now, but as he told Mark during a walk this summer,”I’m still faster than an earthworm.”