Dad, there’s no one like you, no one who can take your place. There are no substitutes, no stand-ins, you have the leading role. You are the greatest thing in the world to your kids, a hero in their eyes. You make your children feel safe. Your presence and strength give them protection, security, and comfort in this scary, crazy world. Your words of wisdom and encouragement give them confidence and courage to keep going through life’s ups and downs. Your praise and affirmation are like oxygen to their lungs, like wind in their sails. Your time and attention are some of the greatest feelings in the world to them. Nothing in the world beats a strong, sacrificial, attentive, loving dad. Your hugs of affection, your smiles of approval, make your children feel treasured and very much loved. They see your tireless efforts to care and to provide. Your hard work in this dog-eat-dog world is never once in vain. It is you and your great sacrifices that make their life possible! You provide their food, a roof over their head, a bed to sleep on, and clothes on their back. Every single one of you Dads puts forth heroic efforts day in and day out, to provide for your family’s needs and well-being. Every single dad, no matter what you do for a living. You might be a plumber, a businessman, a teacher or an engineer, a truck driver, a mechanic, a cook, or a missionary or pastor, a construction worker, or a tech worker. You may work in the medical field, the military or the arts, or practice law. You might live in a trailer, or an apartment, or an old fixer-upper home. You might live in a brand new home or something in between. Each of you Dads is doing your very best in a world that fights you every step of the way, to sacrificially provide and care for your families, and provide the things they truly need. You dads put up with the dung of this world, the crap thrown in your face, the injustices at work, the morons and fools you have to deal with as you try to make a living. You Christian dads are something else, something special and unrivaled. You keep trusting God when everything looks bleak, you keep walking the straight and narrow in this crooked, twisted world. You deal with things your kids have no idea of, you fight the hounds of hell. You often walk a lonely road that few can understand, striving to live pure and true, against the tide of sin. You put up with the insults, the ridicule, and slights, you just keep right on going into the darkest nights. Your words of correction and instruction help save your children’s lives. Though they may not understand, your strong, tough love puts them on the path of life and helps keep them from the pits. Your steadfast faith in God, your love for Jesus Christ, your honest upright heart, give them a legacy worth more than money can buy. Your example leaves a lasting imprint deep on their soul.
Dad, never, ever lose sight of the irreplaceable man you are. My kids often lived without the finer things of this life. For decades we had no air conditioning, no dishwasher, no fancy TV, no cable, no fancy clothes, we drove older cars or vans, the kids all shared rooms, slept in used beds. Some of our flooring was ancient and stained, our carpet often threadbare and worn. Most of our furniture was always purchased, used. Once I made them bunk beds from boards I found in a dumpster. I once carpeted their bedroom with carpet samples a business threw away. Once our water heater broke, and we had no way to fix it for months. We gave them baths in the sink, warming cold water on the stove, then mixing it with cold. I couldn’t buy our first second car till we were married almost 18 years! It was for ole dad to drive, a used 1983, yellow Honda Civic hatchback, 4 speed on the floor, vinyl seats, no ac, no radio, for $600 bucks, in Minnesota winters! I drove it for years. Most of the time, pastors, missionaries, and those called to some kind of Christian service don’t make much money. All those years no matter what conditions we lived in, my kids had my undying love and affection, my time and attention, they were my pride and joy. I had no money for a winter sled when they were little, but I found an orange plastic toboggan sled someone threw away. I had no rope to pull them but found a large electric cord in the same trash heap. I put it through the holes, tied in a knot, and I became their horse, pulling them over the frozen creek down in the woods. They loved it! I wouldn’t trade that for all the money in the world. We had no zoo to go to in those years, so I took them to the university’s animal barns to see the baby goats. I loved my kids, I gave them what I had, ME! I gave them myself, my love for them, my ingenuity, my time, attention, love and affection, my kindness and compassion, my sacrifice and hard work, my steadfast devotion to Jesus Christ, my passionate faith in God. I let them know how much I loved them and enjoyed them. They were everything to me, they still are. Sometimes I worked 70 hours a week, sometimes even more, sometimes less. I simply did the best with what God gave to me, what God allowed for me, and I thanked Him for it, made the most of it, and look back on it all with real joy and satisfaction. My greatest joy was being their dad.
Dads, you are amazing men and I honor and salute you. I have devoted my ministry life to helping you.
Dads, no matter what lies this world says about you, YOU. ARE. IRREPLACEABLE!
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling