Last year for Father’s Day I was in Ecuador. We were in this tiny little cinder block church with one fading loud speaker. It was my first time to experience an international worship service. It was a great experience. In the year since, I’ve become a father myself, and Father’s Day means so much more. The following is a blog I wrote and shared last year while in Ecuador. It is a small excerpt from the book “Jesus Among Other Gods” by Ravi Zacharias. While reading it I felt that it was a great piece to share in light of Fathers’ Day. The excerpt is followed by some of my own personal thoughts.
“A few years ago, a former Olympic athlete came to visit me. He was looking for some direction in his life. He was a strong and solidly built man. It was a privilege to be around him–just in the hopes that muscles were contagious!
He told me of the time he was representing his country at the Olympics. It was a story of dreams that had struggled against a potential nightmare. From the age of twelve, the Olympics had been all he labored for. He had put every penny he earned and every purchase he made into someday becoming a gold medalist in the event he loved. He was totally focused. This is what he wanted. But he had a very turbulent relationship with his father, who had no interest in this dream of his, and, therefore, he had funded every penny himself.
When he was only seventeen, he filmed the world champion in the event for which he was training and broke down his every stride, frame by frame, to study his technique. He then had himself filmed in the same distance and matched it, stride for stride. By precisely piecing together where he was losing the precious seconds to the world champion, he determined to bridge the gap. Through sheer willpower, discipline, and courage, his goal was within reach.
He made the cut for his country’s team, and life was suddenly like being atop a floating cloud. He won every heat and was emerging as the surprise and potential winner when the finals came. Was this a dream or was it real? No, it was real, he reminded himself.
He was at the starting point for the finals, and his nation was watching. Millions were cheering for him, and hearts were racing, expecting this ‘country-boy-makes-it-big’ story to hit the headlines the next day. In fact, I remember watching the event. The gun was about to go off, signaling the start. This was the moment he had waited for most of his life. But the mind with all it’s tenacity and resoluteness is also a storehouse of unuttered yearnings.
‘From out of nowhere,’ he said, ‘an unexpected thought suddenly flooded my mind–I WONDER IF MY FATHER IS WATCHING ME.’
That unanticipated thought momentarily overcame him and may have added a fraction of a second to his first two strides, robbing him of the gold. With great credit, he still won the bronze. The third fastest in the world is no mean accomplishment. Yet, to him, the victory on the track lost it’s luster when measured against the deeper yearnings of his life–the approval of the ones you love. Little did this Olympian know how my heart was beating as he shared this story with me. I understood him well.
Young dreams may be wild ones, but they are never corrected by ridiculing them. They must be steered by a loving voice that has earned the right to be heard, not one enforced by means of power. This is a very difficult lesson for parents to learn. And, as cultures lose their restraining power, there will be greater need for mutual love and respect between parents and children if a relationship of trust is to be built, rather than banking on authority because of position.”
This Father’s Day I am overjoyed by the reality of fatherhood. It is better than I could have ever imagined. Also, I’m grateful for an earthly father that never squashed my dreams. I never once had to wonder if he was watching because he was always there to cheer me on in my accomplishments or correct me with great grace and patience through my many-many failures.
I’m also infinitely thankful for a Heavenly Father who has shaped me in my peculiar uniqueness, equipped me for big dreams, measured the distance of my faults by the rule of His mercy, and guided my every step by the light of His Word.
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” – Romans 8:16 NASB