February 28, 2007 was a day that changed my life forever. I had become a father and so many things concerning my perspective on life began to change. The first time that I held my son I felt such a variety of emotions, yet what kept permeating in my head was the concept of life not being about me anymore. I was now responsible for the life of another human being and so many things my parents told me growing up finally began to make sense.
With Father’s Day on the horizon I have been thinking about how blessed I am to have two beautiful healthy children as well as having had the chance to grow up with an awesome dad. My dad is not and was not a perfect man but I cannot imagine where my life would be right now if not for his godly influence. I have seen him at his highest and lowest moments yet his faith has never wavered. Even to this day he continues to inspire me in many ways so in regards to Father’s Day I wanted to write a blog honoring my dad Harold Bradley. Here are five things that I have gleaned from my dad that I hope to instill into my own children.
1. His Love for God and His Word: Daddy had a passion for the Word of God and made it a huge part of our lives growing up. I saw him reading it often and trust me this mattered. Parents I promise your children notice if you lay your Bible down after church on Sundays and don’t pick it back up again until the next Sunday when you return to church. Daddy loved the Scriptures and quoted them often, which in turn were played out in his life. He didn’t just talk the talk but he walked the walk. I never had to be convinced that the Bible was true because I saw this in my dad’s life. I saw its power as he lived from day to day. I remember him telling me once as a child that with God’s Word I was unstoppable and to approach whatever obstacle that I ever faced with the Word of God.
2. His Work Ethic: Simply put, my dad is a hard worker. He was always willing to work jobs that I know he hated just so we could have food on the table even if that meant working sometimes fifty or sixty hours a week, which doesn’t even account for his work as a bi-vocational minister. One of the biggest problems in our culture today is laziness, and I will be the first to admit that I have been bitten by this bug since birth. I really believe that many spiritual struggles that people deal with can be traced back to spiritual and physical laziness. At least that is how it is in my life, even though I have come a long way in the last ten years. My dad probably doesn’t know this, but the work ethic that he always demonstrated is one of the things that helped me to get through college and seminary and still inspires me to this day.
3. His Desire to Follow Jesus Wherever No Matter the Cost: My dad started pastoring when I was around eleven years old and it was an adjustment for our family. I remember being frustrated at the time because we had to leave the only church I had ever been a part of, but in the long run it taught me so much as to what it means to follow the call of God on your life. If my dad had not been obedient to God’s call we would not have moved and would not have interacted with certain people who God has used to impact my life in ways that have led to me being the person I am today. I remember conversations we had where he would tell me that sometimes God calls us to do things that may be difficult and not make sense, but we must be obedient and that He is always faithful. These are things that I have never forgotten and they still impact me to this day.
4. The Time He Invested in Me: As busy as my dad always was, sometimes working fifty hours a week even swinging shifts, he always made time for us. I even remember when he would get up at two o’clock in the morning and go deliver papers then afterwards go and work an eight hour day. He is the one who taught me how to throw a baseball, swing a bat, fish, hunt, etc.. Some of our best bonding times were spent watching Atlanta Braves baseball or Tarheel basketball, which are times I will always cherish.
5. His Desire to Love Me Even Though I Was Unlovable: Many people have a hard time believing that their heavenly father loves them because they have never had it modeled for them by their earthly father. It’s hard to buy into the fact that a God they can’t see loves them when their own father who they have seen has never said or shown that he loves them. First of all, I think that we all have a hard time grasping God’s love especially when we understand our sin in comparison to His holiness. However, when looking at it through the perspective of a father who adopted us as sons and daughters it is much easier to grasp especially when our own father showed us unconditional love. I never doubted that my dad loved me and still to this day doubt has never even crossed my mind. He not only said it to me but showed it daily through his actions, even though I at times made it very difficult especially in my teenage years. That is the love of God in action. God loves us unconditionally even though we were sinners and very unlovable.
These are just a few of many examples of things that I have gleaned from my dad that I hope to pour into my own children. I pray that I can be half of the father that he was and that mostly my parenting would point my children to the God of the universe who loves them unconditionally and sent His Son Jesus to take their place on the cross. If my children go their whole lives and never understand the love of Jesus then I have failed them as a dad. I pray that we all grow closer to Abba our heavenly dad this Father’s Day!