Sunday afternoon I was at the beach catching up on my reading when a family of four walked over the dune. The boy (about 7) and girl (about 5) were dressed for sand-play and got busy immediately. Without buckets or shovels they used their hands to begin carving out a pond next to the shallow creek, excitedly conversing about their project.
But Daddy had brought a ball and two mitts, one for him and one for his boy. “C’mon!” he coaxed, with pep in his voice. “Let’s play some ball!”
His son, deep into digging, wasn’t interested. So his daddy began tossing the ball high in the air, catching it himself, calling again and again for his builder-boy to join him, but he repeatedly answered, “I don’t want to, Daddy.”
Peeking over my book to watch what would happen, I created several scenarios in my mind:
- Maybe the dad was busy all week, unable to find father-son play time, and this was it.
- Perhaps he’d recently enrolled his boy in Pee Wee Baseball and hoped to coach him that afternoon.
- Or was he a controller, fathering according to a strict schedule that included baseball that day?
Would this father patiently wait for his son? Would he insist he play ball? Would he leave the beach in a huff?
Suddenly the boy initiated his own call. “Hey, Daddy! Come and make this pond with us. We need your help!”
His daddy set aside his ball and mitts and moved into his children’s project, showing them how to use driftwood as shovels, adding a side canal, and praising their work. When the pond was “complete”, his son was ready for baseball, and the two of them played with gusto.
* * * * * * * * *
Scripture is generously sprinkled with references to fatherhood, and we all have (or at least had) a father. God uses father-metaphors to teach men how to lead their families, love their wives, discipline their children, and show tolerance toward others. But on the flip side of that instruction is his invitation to all of us, men and women alike, to call him Father. He wants to lead, love, discipline, and yes, show tolerance to us when we disappoint him.
Our heavenly Father wants us to embrace an intimate relationship with him that resembles the father-son joy I saw on the beach last Sunday. That was some good fathering, which is exactly what God offers to us.
BTW, before that family left the beach, the little boy had constructed an obstacle course…..
…..through which he challenged his daddy to try skipping stones without hitting the sticks. It turned out to be more fun than pond-making, better than baseball, and a great demonstration of the warm connection God the Father wants to have with every one of us.
“May…. God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)