Sunday, 15 June 2014

My father taught me

I bought my father a card, late. I still haven't posted it... I've never been terribly good with cards. Much better with blog posts. So here goes...

When I was six, my father uprooted me from my friends, my home in Aberdeen, the city life I'd been born into and took me to the Shetland Isles. One hundred miles from anywhere. Sea and wind battering daily on the black rocks of the shore.

Why would he do this? Because he believed God had called him there. I believe he was right. My father taught me that being obedient to God is more important than security and stability.

We spent the first night in our new home alone. My mother and sister staying with my grandparents. Dad and I camped out. The next morning we toasted bread over an open fire. I'll never forget that.

My father gave up a secure job and career. He started his own printing business and built that up until it thrived and he could employ several people. He taught me not to trust in someone else for a successful career. Instead, he taught me to work hard, to take risks, to try new things.

He taught me that success comes from treating customers with respect; from building long term relationships. From taking responsibility for ones own work.

He made mistakes. Entire print orders had to be binned because something had gone wrong. It was worth it to ensure the customer got what they ordered.

My father employed me. Paid me an excellent wage. But I was made to work for it. Long hours spent collating and numbering and folding. Hours spent in rhythmic monotony watching paper churn out of a machine, valuable to him to ensure a problem was caught early on.

He started in a rented room. Not even big enough to swing a cat. I don't believe he ever tried to swing a cat. It was tiny. Don't despise small beginnings, my father taught me.

I missed the city but my father gave me the country. Miles of white sandy beaches. We built sandcastles on every island. Rocky beaches where he taught me to skim stones until I could equal him. Endless hills where we could run and tumble and roll.

Long walks until my legs hurt and my moaning scared the birds. He taught me that being outside is wonderful. That God has given us an amazing planet. That there is a need in every human to explore and also simply to be still.

I missed my friends but my father was my friend. He asked my advice, told me his plans, shared his struggles.

We played games. Endless games. My father taught me chess and draughts and rook and monopoly and scrabble and risk. He taught me to be competitive and laughed at my anger when I lost. He taught me to accept defeat with grace but also to keep striving to win.

My father taught me to love God and to love God's word. He lived as a follower of Christ with honesty and transparency. He read Jesus words and tried to live by them. He made mistakes. He confessed them. He got angry. He said sorry. He acknowledged his weakness. My father wasn't perfect but he was real. And, he was blessed.

There is a simple truth in God's word. God blesses people who acknowledge him and who seek wisdom and who work hard. My Dad did all three. As a result we never wanted for anything that we needed. We had an abundance. As I've applied this truth in my own life, I've seen the same results.

One evening we passed a bus shelter where teenagers were hanging out sporting their bright pink and purple mohicans, studded leather jackets and Doc Martin boot. My Dad stopped and talked to them. Invited them to our house. I was mortified.

He welcomed them into our home, treated them as equals and told them about Jesus. My father taught me to accept everyone, no matter how different they appear.

He was passionate for Jesus and persuaded and challenged almost everyone he met. He also loved debating and would pick holes in my arguments. Yet, while he was fascinated by science and logic, he chose faith to underpin them. My father taught me that faith in God allows science and logic to make sense.

My father taught me to laugh uproariously and to cry unashamedly. To love crazy and be content with normal.

I am in large part who I am today because of my Dad and for that I am grateful!

Dad, this ones for you.



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