A father’s love is greatest gift

By Joan Clayton: PNT columnist

I heard a story about a daddy and his two little girls, ages 9 and 5, who lived close to the beach. One day they all decided to go for a swim just a little way out into the ocean. Before the daddy realized it, a current had taken them out too far.

Realizing the danger, he told his older daughter, “Honey, listen carefully. I am going to swim back to shore to take your sister. Daddy loves you, and he’s coming back for you. You stay afloat right here, and I will be back to get you. Remember I love you very much.”

The father safely arrived at the shore with his younger daughter. He immediately went back for the other child. He swam to where he thought he had left her. He searched to no avail. He had just enough strength left to swim back to shore.

With the little stamina he had left, he hurried down the beach and found someone with a boat. They quickly motored to the vicinity where the father thought he had left his older daughter. They looked and looked. After 45 minutes, they were just about to lose hope when they spotted her, still staying “afloat.”

As they pulled the exhausted little girl into the boat, the boat owner asked her how she had managed to stay afloat for so long. The child replied: “My daddy told me that he loved me and that he was coming back for me.”

Our heavenly Father has told us the same thing.

When I was a child, severe nosebleeds left me anemic, and I needed a blood transfusion. My earthly father, having the same blood type, quickly and willingly gave his blood to save me. My heavenly Father has done the same thing.

The Congressional Medal of Honor was given to a father/son combination. The father won his medal for an act of bravery in the Civil War. His son received his honor for bravery displayed by lending inspiration to thousands of soldiers and sailors in World War II.

The son’s name was Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and his father was Arthur MacArthur, Jr. The adage, “Like father, like son,” rings remarkably true in this case.

Godly fathers realize children are gifts from God and are a heritage of the Lord. In Exodus 20, God talks about idols and explains how the father’s examples influence the children’s lives to the third and fourth generation.

Fathers are admonished to train their children in spiritual matters. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

Fathers show affection to their children. They are not ashamed to tuck their children in bed with a goodnight kiss. This one single act will linger in children’s memories long after childhood.

I think Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s father must surely have done all of these things. In my research, I discovered the general’s philosophy of life. I think it can be applied to all of us:

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubts, as young as your self confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”

In other words, my heavenly Father is saying, “So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you. I will support you with my right hand that saves you” (Isaiah 41:10 NCV).

When our youngest granddaughter was very small, she said these words to her Daddy on Father’s Day: “I love you so much for all you do,”

Let us say that, too, especially to our “Heavenly Father!”