I have an amazing Dad. Just the other day, I was reflecting on him and on all the lessons he has taught me. So many life lessons are learned without our realization until we are grown and have raised our own children. My Dad is a military man, having had a career in the Air Force. He retired young enough to have a second career as an editor (then senior editor) for a publication company. So whatever my Dad did, it was with purpose.
As a little girl, I admired my Dad so much. Due to his military career, he was gone overseas a lot; whenever he was home, that time was special. I remember being little and walking down the street; I would always hold tightly to his index finger. Not only did I feel safe, I felt proud that he was my Dad. I would sit behind him in the car while he was driving and play with his thick, black hair. My hair was brown, but I had always hoped that it would turn black like his. Eventually mine did grow dark like his, but the similarities didn’t stop there; he turned gray in his forties, and so did I!
As a typical teenager, I wanted my own car. With his quick wit, my Dad told me I had to wait until I got married so my husband could buy one for me! When I graduated from college, I came out with a degree, but without a husband. Therefore, I had no car, and I was living at home. I needed a car, so my Dad took me out to buy one. I really didn’t care much about cars; the make and model didn’t concern me. As long as it got me from point A to point B, I was happy. So for him to select a 1980 Chevy Citation was fine with me! We found the car and my Dad said, “Let’s go over to the bank and get a loan.” I was totally clueless about such things. We sat down at the bank; a few minutes later (after signing a few papers), I, along with the bank, owned a car! The tiny little town we lived in still does not even have one stop light in it; everyone knows everyone there. The car lot, bank and insurance agent were all on the same street. When we stepped outside of the bank, Dad said, “Go on across the street and get some insurance for your car.” What?! Insurance? I knew nothing about liability, collision, comprehensive, etc. Those were only terms I had heard, but they had no relevance in my life…until then. I did as I was told. I sat across the desk from the insurance agent and tried my best to answer his questions. Once again, only a few signatures later, and I was out the door with insurance in hand. I now had a car, insurance and a loan…all within about an hour!
The funny thing about this story is that several years later I realized my Dad had orchestrated all this ahead of time for me. He had already picked the car and had lined up the loan and insurance. How did this benefit me? I learned a lot about buying a car, establishing a loan and buying insurance, all under the watchful eye of my Dad. It gave me knowledge and confidence for future big decisions. I also realized my Dad was there for me. He was being a loving and wise father. He was taking care of me, and he already knew ahead of time that the decision I was making was safe for me.
That same year, I took a teaching job at a small Christian school about 300 miles from home. While on Christmas break, my Dad took me to a heated garage with my car. There, he told me that we needed to rotate the car’s tires and that I needed to learn how to change a tire. After the usual explanation of “where IS the jack anyway?!” and the importance of setting the emergency brake, I was instructed to loosen the lug nuts. No problem, so I thought. I began with all my might to pull and tug. I looked up at him with a look of “help,” and he said, “You need to figure it out.” He went on to say, “Someday you will need to change a tire, and you will be by yourself on the interstate when it’s 20 below. What are you going to do then?” He instructed me to jump on it and use my body weight. I did, and it worked! After I loosened all of the lug nuts on one tire, he did the rest for me. We then rotated the tires and tightened the lug nuts back up, another lesson under my belt. Not long ago, he relayed a similar story that happened to him when he was a young man, alone on a highway at night, unable to get the lug nuts off until he got creative. Again, he was a wise father preparing me for challenges that could lie ahead.
Wouldn’t you know, the very next month I got a flat tire while by myself on the Michigan interstate in truly 20-below-zero weather! After sitting in my car with my white mittens on, and literally chuckling out loud at the irony, I got out and began to change my tire. Thankfully, a man stopped and helped me finish, but it was a job I was prepared to do, thanks to my dad!
As I reflect on the many lessons my Dad has taught me, I can’t help but think of my Heavenly Father, who also loves me and has so often taught me life lessons. Though I was totally unaware at the time, many of these lessons have helped to prepare me to accomplish the job He has placed me here to do. God says that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Many times in God’s Word we see how God had prepared His people for greater battles ahead of them. The life of Joseph illustrates this well. The many lessons God taught Joseph were all to prepare him to be a leader in Egypt and to help save his very own family during a time of drought and famine. Moses is another great example. He spent forty years in the wilderness as a younger man even before God had taken him and the children of Israel into the wilderness for another forty years. Moses was prepared. And then there was David, a young shepherd boy, whom God gave the victory over a lion and a bear. This prepared him for the greater battle that was ahead of him, the infamous defeat of Goliath.
Just as my Dad went ahead of me to make sure the purchasing of my car went smoothly, we can be sure that God paves the way before each of us. The plan He has for us is that of “peace, and not of evil, to give [us] an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). When Moses was talking to Joshua and preparing him to lead the people into the Promised Land, he said, “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8). What a tremendous testimony and promise for each of us!
In the way I loved to hold my Dad’s finger when I was a little girl, admiring him and walking with him, I should desire to do the same with God, my Heavenly Father. He longs for us to spend time with Him in prayer and His Word. He also longs for us to admire Him and to reflect on who He is. That is how we show our love for Him.
While my Dad was in the Air Force, he had many assignments overseas. As a child, I remember he always made sure we were situated in a comfortable home, near family members while he was away. He made sure we were taken care of – that’s what a loving father does, which reminds me of John 14:2c-3, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” My Heavenly Father has “gone ahead” to prepare a place for me. First, He had to prepare me. My sinful heart could not go into His holy heaven without being cleansed by the precious blood of His dear Son, Jesus Christ. In preparation, God sent His dear Son to shed His blood on the cross for my sin. By believing in Him and repenting of my sin, I am prepared to go to this beautiful place He is preparing for each of us.
Now that I am a parent, I know how deeply my Dad loves me, just as I love my children. How much deeper is my Heavenly Father’s love! “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (I John 4:9). I’m thankful for my dad’s love for me and for the eternal love of my Heavenly Father.
Written by Kaylen Balmer. This article was published in the Spring 2016 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine. To contact Kaylen, leave us a comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Facebook