I’ve been friends and ministry partners with Bill Dotson for over 30 years now. One of the many things that sometimes give Bill doubts about me is my lifelong love of the music (not necessarily the politics) of Bruce Springsteen, who I’ve seen live in concert 40 times since 1976. As Bruce sings, and I love to quote, “It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive”. In a cover interview in Esquire in December (the fact that I read Esquire is another point of concern for Bill-I expect this is the first blog in Abiding Fathers history to quote from THAT source!), Bruce said the following which I found of interest.
(Interviewer) “Is there anything your father never said to you that you wish he had said?” (Bruce) “Well, he never said I love you. He never got around to it. I know he did, it just wasn’t in his repertoire.”
(Interviewer) “Is there something you’d want to hear from him today?” (Bruce’s dad passed many years ago) (Bruce) “Honestly, I would have liked him to see who I was. This is what I was always running up against. He couldn’t see who I was. That’s what your children want from you-you are their audience.”
(Interviewer) “What would you say if you had to give advice to someone raising sons today? (Bruce has two grown sons and a grown daughter, all in their mid-to-late-twenties.) (Bruce) “My kids, we’re lucky, they’re solid citizens. If I have any advice to give, it’s be present, be there. I mean you have to be fully present in mind, spirit and body….my children are transitioning into adulthood, but I’ve found my presence still carries a great deal of weight on that rare occasion when one of them actually still asks me a question.”
I read that and I hear God speaking through the noise of the culture and I’m reminded of the importance of what He’s doing with and through Abiding Fathers. There’s lots of ways out there that God is working and moving and spreading the message of the importance of dads really being present in their children’s lives. I need to remember that one of the (many) reasons God doesn’t take us home immediately upon our salvation is that we each have a part to play in spreading the news about Him. Some people hear that in church, some people hear that in relationships, others hear it in Scripture and yes, some people may be surprised when they hear it in the tumult of today’s society. It’s a reminder of another of my favorite Springsteen lyrics, “This train carries saints and sinners, this train carries losers and winners…now, get on board”.
Play your part
My relationship with my dad was complicated and didn’t always play out as I had hoped, so Bruce’s first two answers above really spoke to the wounds in my heart (which by God’s grace were healed long ago). My relationships with my two (now grown) sons are on a much better footing, but you never retire from being a dad, so Bruce’s last answer really speaks to me on this part of the path I’m on with them now. My relationship with this ministry is defined by a verse that hangs on my office wall (a beautiful piece of art drawn by Bill’s grand-daughter Annie) that says “And HE will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” (Malachi 4:6a). Where and how is God speaking to you today about your heart as a father? After all, as Bruce would say “Lay down your money and you play your part, everybody’s got a hungry heart”.