Not long ago, I published “Dad’s Little Things,” and giggled over the very dad-like face in the feature photo. Funny how the image of dad changes when he graduates to Papa status. Dad’s tend to bring the hammer and discipline, usually with love and care, but sometimes in the stress and frustration that marks fatherhood, the niceties can fail. Papa, on the other hand, hands out all correction with grace and care.
This week, I thought I’d give my daughter and her husband a break to listen to my husband’s sermon. I had already heard it in the first service before her little family arrived, and my grandson was having a fit about going to nursery. After half an hour on the swing and a few minutes eating snacks in the fellowship hall, we re-entered the service. My best-laid plans went awry when Zadok caught a glimpse of Papa on stage behind the pulpit, and he made a beeline for him.
Papa lovingly stopped his sermon and invited “Zaddy” to come stand with him. Memories teleported me back to a little church near Oxford, MI where Papa spoke, and our eight-or-nine-year-old son had a question and raised his hand during the sermon. Dad stopped and took his question. He patiently listened to little Martin and answered his concern before moving on to the remainder of his sermon.
Zaddy interrupted an apt sermon on sheep and shepherds. The main point: at some point we have to shepherd others, not just keep taking in as spiritual sheep. He stopped to explain that he invited Zadok up to the stage with him because he (Papa) is one of the little man’s shepherds, and with that comes responsibility. Sometimes that looks like loving instead of correcting.
Zadok eventually descended the stage and will likely never remember this day, but he will always remember that his Papa made the time to love and shepherd him, and in those difficult days of childhood and adolescence, when life makes little sense, he’ll trust his shepherd who ultimately leads him to the Great Shepherd.
…and that’s the view from My Front Porch.