When I was about twelve my Dad and Grandfather and I joined some men from the church to do a church service at the county jail. It was a tough place to conduct a service. Dad and Grandpa gave their testimonies and preached. Others sang and testified. They had to do so thorough a small hole in a huge metal door.
Because the inmates were out of site they were especially abusive. They shouted and swore and created as much havoc as possible. The men from the church were stalwarts. They were not going to tuck their tails and run just because of a little verbal opposition.
I stood and watched and listened. After most of the men had tried to testify or sing or read Scripture, Dad turned to me and said, “Why don’t you give your testimony, Buddy.”
My heart began to pound but I stepped up to the door. Dad said, “Speak right up clearly, Buddy,” and I launched into my testimony. I don’t remember how long I spoke. I do remember two things very clearly. One was that the abusive language didn’t stop. The other thing I remember well is the feeling of my father’s hand on my shoulder gently patting me the whole time I talked. He quietly whispered encouragements to me as I spoke. “Good job, son. Keep going. That’s right. Good. Good job.” All the time I spoke he patted me gently on the shoulder.
It has been over thirty years and I have preached hundreds of times in scores of places but I never preach without a subconscious sense of my father’s hand on my shoulder.
Twice the Heavenly Father said similar things about His son, the Lord Jesus. Once he said; “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” On another occasion he said; ?this is my beloved son, hear ye him.” These divine affirmations were accompanied with miraculous signs. They were clearly symbolic and significant.
I’m not sure I understand all the significance of these occasions, but I know it is important to affirm our sons and daughters. I know their spirits are thirsty for it. There is great enduring power in the quiet, steady affirmation of a father to his son. You may not think it is important but our sons and daughters long for this paternal approval.
When I’m with my children I want them to know that I love them. I want them to know I am pleased with them. I want them to know that I am eager to hear them and eager for others to hear them. I believe they have something to say.
Long after I am gone I like to believe that my sons and daughters will hear my voice in a quiet place in their soul. I like to think they will see my smile. I like to think they will feel my hand on their shoulder.
Riverfront Character Inn
February 21, 2005