What My Father Means to Me

One icy cold, frozen day in 2017, I woke up around 4am. I had a job to do: drive my parents to the airport for an early flight. My dad and my oldest sister bought a Saab 95 a few years prior, a great car that they were kind enough to let me use during my last years in college. My sister lived overseas, and would use it when she visited home, so in the mean time it was my responsibility.

I dreaded this early morning. I never liked driving when the roads were icy. I’ve had a history of getting stuck in snow, bending axels on curbs, and getting my car towed because someone’s driveway wasn’t plowed and I couldn’t see it. All careless mistakes over the years that made me increasingly anxious anytime I had to drive on icy roads.

But I had to drive my parents to the airport. So when we were ready, we left and I headed down the first road after my parent’s neighborhood, which ended in a stop sign. Now, when you approach stop signs on icy roads, you need to start slowing down a long ways away. I treated it like a normal summer day and slowed down far too close to the sign. Because the roads were icy, the car slid and I crashed into a ditch on the other side of the road, unable to get the car out.

My parents weren’t going to make it to their flight. My grandparents picked them up, and I had to wait in the ditch alone, waiting for a tow-truck to get the car out. When a tow-truck came, to make matters worse, they refused to get me out without a police car to block the road, meaning I would get a ticket. I was incredibly tired, frustrated, angry, bitter, and self-loathing over another car accident to add to my resume. And the car was totaled, not my car, but my sister and father’s car.

When I finally got home, I did what I always did to cope with my pain: I painstakingly cleaned my room. Every inch was overturned, even the things that were already clean and organized were completely torn apart and redone. While I did this, I dreaded what could come next. What would my sister think of me? She loved that car. It was one-of-a-kind, sporty, highly customized, irreplaceable. But even more so, what would my father finally say? He had his trip to think about at the moment, but I knew that when he had time to collect his thoughts, I would hear them. I heard his gasps and the painful “no, no, no…” as I veered into the ditch. I saw the pain and disappointment in his eyes. I knew the trouble I had caused once more.

So Judas came to the garden of Gethsemane, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

– John 18:3

And yet, just like Judas, I misjudged the character of my father. Judas believed that he needed soldiers and weapons, because he thought Jesus would fight him. He viewed Jesus as many view God today: angry, quick to smite, and belligerent. My father had a choice in all of this, a choice on how to respond to what I had done. He chose to not yell, to not make my pain even greater. My father forgave me and bought me a new car.

This story may not seem like much to some, who have experienced far worse in life, and perhaps have been given far greater. To some, it was just a car crash: no one was hurt, and my father replaced the car. But to me, this was when my life was transformed. This was when I realized what it meant to be a father. This was when I realized that my father was sent by God to be an example to me, and to bring out something in me that I never knew was there.

For several months I pondered this grace, and searched for ways I could share what I learned. I had written a book before about the Mayflower, but who was I to write about theology? To write about God? I’m a man full of mistakes, and sin, and pain, how could I be qualified to write about a Holy God? But the disciples didn’t have years of theological experience, they didn’t go to seminary, they were ordinary people living broken lives that were transformed, and they wrote the gospels.

For the first time in my life, I was convicted to beg God for wisdom, wisdom to see what scripture says about being a father, wisdom to understand the character of my own father. At this time, I was working as an intern during the summer. And little did my coworkers know, I cried every day in my cubicle. Every day at my job I spent my lunch breaks reading the word of our living God, and writing down how they applied to my father. These writings formed my book called My Father’s House, which I gave to my dad on Father’s Day that year.

The book I wrote sparked a certain momentum in my life, where I began asking God questions, and writing about the answers he gives us in scripture. My first question was how can I be a father one day, like my dad? As for the title of this post, what does my father mean to me, I’ll tell you. He’s the reason I write about God. He’s the reason that I remain confident in God as my Heavenly Father. Today, I still drive the new car he gave me. As for my sister, Karis, if you’re reading this, know that I’ll always be sorry for what I did. Yet at the same time, I am glad that God has transformed my life because of it. Likewise, we ought to be sorry for the sins we have committed against God and our neighbors, but thankful for God’s grace, and one day, the gift of eternal life.

If you’d like to read the book that I wrote for my father, it’s available below on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1547292644/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_8Q8VATT8Q12KSV5HPG5B

Happy Father’s Day to my dad!

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

– Ephesians 6:4

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