This morning, my "whatsoever things" filter brought my father into my thoughts. I thought about his lifelong process of pouring out his life for others in the ministry, following Jesus to the ends of the earth along a difficult, and darkening path. He has faced setbacks, wounds, and discouragements; some of these trials have been apparent to all, such as the loss of my brother, but many more sadnesses have been borne without outward indication to the world. Without indication to me, even. I have seen the circumstances of these sorrows play out before my eyes, but I have not heard my father complain about them. I thought this morning, Daddy is the personification of the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling. For those who may be unfamiliar with this poem, I've pasted it below. For those of you who ARE familiar with it, and also familiar with my father, don't you agree? And the last few lines which say, "...yours is the earth and everything in it..." reminded me of the verse in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus says that the meek shall inherit the earth. So, get ready, Daddy. You're going to inherit the earth.
And then a strange word picture popped into my head. Daddy is like those little packets of silica pellets that you find in new shoes that are put there to absorb moisture. Daddy absorbs discouragement. Now, wait a minute- I know that probably sounds terrible. Hear me out. I'm not saying what you THINK I'm saying. ( He's certainly not Tigger, but he's not Eeyore, either. Or Rabbit. Maybe more of a Piglet or a Pooh. ) He encounters PLENTY of discouragement, possibly more than a typical person because of his sensitive soul. And it may make him sad, but it does not make him bitter. But even more importantly, and really the whole point of this bizarre analogy ( HERE IT IS, PEOPLE! THE WHOLE PAYOFF OF THE PACKETS IN THE SHOE ANALOGY), he does not let discouragement seep out of him and poison other people. Even legitimate discouragement! ( As opposed to just " in-your-head-discouragement.") Instead of Harry Truman's motto of "the buck stops here", he could have a plaque on his desk that says: "The discouragement stops here."
( Me, I'm more of a discouragement aqueduct; it comes in and I let it spill over and pass it along to the next person, under the guise of "venting.")
( Speaking of discouragement, today has been a doozy and I'm afraid I haven't handled it very well. It's 10:30 and I'm just now recovering my equilibrium thanks to baking therapy. Gingersnaps were the order of the day and I had none. So I made them. I figure, what's the point of being an adult if you can't drop everything and bake up a batch of cookies at 9:30 at night? And I just want you to know, I did not eat them all in one fell swoop. No, not even half.)
BACK ON TRACK HERE. In perhaps an even more incongruous analogy, he might be compared to a wastewater treatment center; yucky, negative gray water of dingy circumstances goes in- the sweet, positive, clear water of faithfulness comes out. What a testimony to the power of the Spirit of God working within the yielded human heart. ( I TOLD you it was incongruous. Proverbs talks about the worthy woman's children rising up and calling her blessed. Here we have a child rising up and calling her father a waste water treatment center. All for the glory of God.)
For those of you familiar with the Old Testament, Daddy's the anti-Gehazi. For those of you familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien, he's the anti-Denethor. ( For those of you not familiar with the Old Testament OR J.R.R. Tolkien... GET familiar, you cultural barbarians! I can't paste the Old Testament or the Ring Trilogy at the bottom of this entry, you know...) ( For those of you who ARE familiar with the O.T. and are still scratching your heads trying to remember Gehazi: think...Elisha's servant... Or was it Elijah? Hmmmm. Who's the cultural barbarian now?) Yes, he sees darkness and gloom, but he also sees the glorious end that will eventually shatter the darkness.
He inspires me.
I thought about storing this away for his eulogy, or Father's Day, whichever comes first. ( JUST KIDDING!) But then I thought, there's no time like the present. I love you, Daddy!
Here's the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!