My father, Gerald Reagan, would never think of himself as a great father. While as with all of us he is not perfect, with every passing year I appreciate him even more. There were many things as a poor family he could not give me, but he managed to give me some incredibly wonderful things.
1. His Time
All of my growing up years when I was home from school and he from work, you would likely find us together. He has always been such a hard worker, and like any child I sometimes got tired of the work, but we were together. We have our memories too– copperheads, close calls with trees falling, me falling and sliding all the way down the mountain repeatedly during my clumsy teenage years. I never once in my life ever felt he was tired of me. It was never just a duty to him either. Years after I left home he told me how lonely he was when he went out to work without me. Sometimes when I go back to visit we go work–he runs the chainsaw and I pile the brush–just like always. Strangely, it refreshes me now.
2. His Support
He has always been on my side. He has always told me he believed in me. He told me to go to college when no one else in our family had ever been. He supported me later when the pastorate took me away and he wished I did not have to go. When I preach and he is there, or my kids sing, I usually see him crying. His support has always been so strong that I have always got the impression that my life is more important than his. It isn’t, of course, but he acts like it is. When I was growing up, I always felt safe as well. I knew if anyone ever tried to hurt me, they would have to deal with him. I never doubted for one second that he would lay his life down for mine.
3. His Unconditional Love
The best lesson for understanding our Heavenly Father’s love is an unconditional love from an earthly father. I have always found it easy to believe that God loved me because my Daddy did without fail. I truly believe that there is nothing I could do to erase that love. Others might be done with me, but his door, his table, and his love would always be there. That kind of love gives one a security and a strength that enriches your life beyond what words can express. If others’ love wavers, what a treasure to know of one whose will not.
I guess in receiving what I have from my father, I have learned what it takes to be a father. As I reflect on him, I feel that maybe I am not living up to his standard in these great categories. At least I know the way. May God help me to pass on to my children what my father did to me.
I love you Daddy. Happy Father’s Day.