As a small child, I remember being able to easily settle the typical boyhood arguments of “my daddy is bigger than your daddy”, because my father stood 6’3” and was always a very healthy man. A lot of times those boasts can include the implied message that one should be afraid of the big dad, but my father was a gentle giant. His size was usually accompanied by his huge laughter as opposed to a roar, and he had the wonderful ability to make those in his presence comfortably at ease.
My dad was known throughout this country as the cat you need to call if you want to find out where to eat good food in any city. His knowledge of restaurants, particularly soul food and BBQ spots, was legendary, and I seek to follow in his footsteps in that regard as well as others. Although he had to alter his diet as time caught up with his body, it was obvious that he greatly enjoyed the pleasure of eating good food. This pleasure was eclipsed, however, by the pleasure of eating good food with good friends (new and old) and family. In fact, he was known to spend most of the time others are eating during a meal talking, therefore prolonging the fellowship time as he caught up eating. People were always trying to spend time eating with and talking to my dad, and I think that reflects the joy he received and reflected to the people with whom he spent time.
Being the knucklehead that I was, I discovered early and often that my dad was quite a disciplinarian. In fact he was quite proficient at applying the board of education to the seat of my understanding. However, no matter what the actual issue was or how angry he may have gotten, he always took the time to assure and reassure me of his love for me, his forgiveness to me, and his commitment to helping me grow past my faults. Of course, these expressions of his love usually occurred over a meal.
These memories and many more cause me to smile as I remember the man that my dad was. They also remind me in a very practical sense of my heavenly Father. He is big enough to be Alpha and Omega, yet he is gentle enough to be intimately concerned with every detail of our lives. He delights in spending time with us, individually and corporately, and experiencing Him heightens our enjoyment of whatever we are experiencing. He also loves us enough to meet us where we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay there. His intent is for us to grow with His help. I praise God for my earthly father and my heavenly Father. I could not exist without either of them.