"Trust me. It builds character."

A man and his noble hound
My father, with the silver hair and the voice that makes willing captives of any audience.  The mocha-rich, “they don’t make them like they used to” kind of voice that chooses words for their sonorous quality just as much as for their functionality.  An instinct for eloquence that enriches the conveyance of information.  

One of his knees is decorated with a long stuttering scar, a 4-inch white flag of surrender to the injury that ended his college football career and with it his days as a Virginia prep demi-god. Sometimes in my parents’ attic I look backwards on grainy 35mm Chuck with the blinding smile and a jersey for every sport.  Chuck before the knee held together by titanium and a spirit tamed by Aslan.  Chuck whose injuries built a training ground for life with a broken earthsuit.

God does not promise us easy but He promises reward, right standing, a good end.  This was the approach taken by my earthly father, too.  Through chore charts and sibling buddy systems and strict TV times he taught us that there are many things in life that are not easy but are worth doing because of their eventual sure reward.  You will pick all the ripe tomatoes before you can go play, and you will apologize and ask your brother’s forgiveness for hurting him, and you will only watch this much television per day.  And instead of scarcity you will find in these things a good life, a life of joy and service and hard work and pleasures more deeply enjoyed because you worked and waited for them.  

My father, the repudiator of the doctrine of instant gratification.  He taught his children to work and wait in faith, and he leads by example as he now endures an assignment whose end date is unknown.  I look at his shoes that will never again be creased from walking and I see a man learning to wait for the restoration of the body that is guaranteed by the deliverance of the soul. 

I am thankful for a father who teaches me to value the rewards of waiting -- the qualities of character formed by doing the best that you can and leaning on others when you can’t; the wisdom of perspective that says, “My life is one plot line of a bigger story written by an author I have learned to trust”; and the true rejoicing in victory that looks more like humility than ego.  Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.


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