It was the first and hopefully last vocal solo of my life. Portage Alliance Church choir, 1985. There was a short alto solo in the Easter cantata and if I concentrated hard and curled my toes just right, I could reach the required D-flat. Man, was I nervous! But the words were priceless and I knew if I could just convey them well, I would surely change the world:
What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be.
One day, your heart will be asking
What will he do with me?
I envisioned lost sinners falling to their knees in repentant droves as I sang the closing line and they finally realized they were playing a high stakes game with their eternal souls.
The best part was that my dad was in the audience. He was already ill with the disease that would end his life a year later, and it would be one of his last times in church. I don't know how big a struggle it was for him to get there, but he was there.
The repentant droves did not materialize that day, but after the concert, Dad gave me a big hug and said "it was beautiful!" Whether or not it was beautiful is beside the point. My dad thought it was, and that's what mattered. I may have been a 26-year old mother, but daddy's approval was still mighty important.
Do we ever outgrow our need for parental approval? Is it healthy? Beats me. I do think it's universal, though. Many years ago, I remember being discouraged about a play I'd written that no one wanted. I felt rejected and untalented. Then a friend pointed to my fridge and the artwork proudly displayed there by my children. She told me that regardless what others thought, God loved my play because I was his child. Even if it was never produced, the script was on God's fridge and when the angels came by, he proudly pointed it out and said, "Look at this! My girl did this!"
I have hung onto that mental image ever since. I've got tons of stuff on God's fridge, and so do you! I guess God has a mighty big fridge.
This weekend is Father's Day. If you're a dad, I encourage you to lavish your children with praise and encouragement Let them know you're proud of who they are and what they do, whether they're two or 52.
If you still have a dad, don't take him for granted. If your relationship is far from ideal, can you enjoy and celebrate what is good about it anyway? Tell him you love him while you can.
And if you've lost your dad, rest in the knowledge that you have a heavenly Father who sees you all the time, loves you beyond measure, and is thrilled to call you his child. He even displays your best work on his fridge!
(By the way, what do you suppose God keeps inside his fridge? Angel food cake? Divinity Squares? Heavenly Hash ice cream? All fat-free, of course!)
Happy Father's Day!