Leaving a Path

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Leaving a path

I’ve been a father for eight years now, but it was only last weekend when I finally figured out what exactly being a father meant. I had the basics down, of course. I knew a father was a guide and a shepherd and a protector. An encourager. And, for better or worse, the foundation for his children’s initial impression of God. Many theologians and pastors believe our opinions of our Heavenly Father are borrowed from our opinions of our earthly ones. I agree with that, I really do. Which is why I approach my job with the utmost seriousness.

But like I said, I’ve struggled with what that all meant for the last eight years. Then came Saturday evening, when I washed the truck and the car. Part of my responsibility is to teach my children some of their own. We’re a family. A household. Four people who have to work together in order to keep things running in a smooth fashion. Which means them pitching in wherever and whenever needed—clearing the dinner table, keeping their bedrooms clean, and, when their father is rushed, helping to wash the vehicles.

But they weren’t in much of a mood to help that day. The sun was out and the air was warm. Spring had sprung, and they had sprung with it. The simple act of spraying off the front of my truck resulted in a water fight. The suds that were supposed to stay in the bucket ended up as a beard on my son. And the sponge…well, I don’t want to talk about what happened with the sponge. So while they played and laughed and pretended the stream of water spilling over the end of the driveway was a waterfall, I lathered and rinsed.

And I fumed. Given the fact that most of you are parents and will likely understand, I’ll admit that. I told them twice to grab the water hose and the extra sponge, and they gave me the obligatory “Yes, sir,” but the siren song of play was much sweeter than daddy’s voice.

Parenting can often be likened to a tireless battle in an endless war. It’s knowing when to allow some play and when to demand some work. It’s having boundaries and structure and knowing when to grant freedom and exploration. It’s reigning your children in and letting them fly. It’s a tough go sometimes. Victory seems impossible and defeat isn’t an option, so we strive for some sort of stalemate that both time and a goodnight kiss always seems to make better.

It didn’t take quite that long, though. The waterfall began to lose its appeal, and the two of them decided to counter the hot pavement by walking barefoot through the water cascading from my truck. For the next few minutes, I was treated to the sounds of giggling and slapping feet. I finished just as they announced they wanted to go back inside and watched as they headed down the sidewalk and onto the porch. “This is the best day ever,” my daughter said. I thought then that maybe letting them play instead of making them work was the right decision. I gathered the bucket and the hose and paused at the edge of the driveway.

There against the backdrop of a giant orange sun were footprints leading toward the porch, fresh and solid at first, then slowly fading at the steps. That’s when I knew. Not just about the basics, the guiding and protecting and shepherding part. But the real reason why God needs parents. We’re to teach our children. We’re to raise them to be responsible and mature, not so they may simply be good, but so they may do God’s work. So they may shine the light in the dark places and turn tears into laughter. So they may give hope where there is despair and faith where there is doubt.

My job? My job was simple—to let them realize that. To tell them that they should do their part to pull the world’s weeds, but that they should always plant flowers, too. They were here in this world for the same reason we all were—to weave a path through this world for others to follow. One that led Home.

Post by Billy Coffey.