In honor of all the fathers reading my column today, I diverge from my normal format to share a brief story that my daughter, Kristin Rebecca Carey, recently wrote about her dad - my wonderful husband. My prayer is that it reminds you of your unending, tremendous influence on your own children.
" A green minivan may not be the most impressive vehicle, but when you're six years old and your dad let's you drive, nothing could be more awesome.
We lived in the suburbs of Richmond when I was little. I didn't know my way around too well, but there was a small library at the entrance to our neighborhood and from there, it was a straight shot to our house on the corner of Birkdale Lane. If it was just my dad and me in the car when we passed the library, I knew there was a good chance he would let me drive home.
I would climb into his lap and hold onto that steering wheel for dear life. Somehow the road was always simultaneously too long and too short when I was behind the wheel. Part of me knew that I was much too small to be in control of anything that big. But another part of me knew the truth - that my dad, with his foot on the pedal and his hand hovering just below mine, was really the one in control (though I definitely bragged about doing it "all by myself" to my mom and my two older brothers).
I had a tendency to look at the pavement directly in front of the car as I drove. As a result, I would jerk the car back and forth, trying to account for every slight curve in the road. Again and again, Dad patiently reminded me to keep my eyes focused farther down the road to make the ride a little smoother. I didn't quite know how to translate his instructions into action, but I was learning.
A few years later, for my first spring break of middle school, Dad took me out West. On long stretches of dusty roads between our adventures, he let me drive. This time, my foot was on the pedal. But if he hadn't been sitting in the passenger seat, I would not have had a clue what to do. He gave me both the instructions I needed and the confidence to do it.
My dad has always placed a lot of trust in me. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, he intentionally positioned me where I would feel powerful, wild and free. For any kid that is important, but for a young girl, receiving that kind of attention from your father is tremendous.
He took me backpacking with the Boy Scouts in elementary school, galloping on horseback through a canyon in middle school, and skydiving in high school. Never once has he allowed me to believe that I couldn't keep up with anything my brothers were doing. Instead, he has carefully taught me and given me the security and courage I need by his strong and steady, patient presence.
In so many ways, my dad's love reflects the love our Heavenly Father has for all us. And the life my dad carved out for my family is the same kind of life our Heavenly Father intended for us.
Joshua 1:9 records God's words; 'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.'
If we are commanded not to be frightened, it's implied that life--at least the kind of life God intends us to live--isn't safe.
Our fathers can either make us afraid of life's dangers by hiding us from them, or they can boldly bring us beyond fear into the sacred place of awe and wonder, where we rely on their strength and instruction for our sense of security.
The physical life is like that, and so is the spiritual life. We either hide from the danger of the unknown - or we embrace the uncertainty of it because we are certain of our God and Father, who leads us deeper in as we mature in our relationship with Him.
I count myself blessed to have grown up under the immense love of a godly father, who taught me what it means to let go of fear. "
May you, too, find little ways every day to help your children grow in strength, courage, love and wisdom. Happy Father's Day.