Tag Archives: Father

Grandpa Value

In my last post, I reflected on a visit by my four siblings and the value of family. The day I posted my reflections, a new family value entered my life: my first grandchild was born.

I grew up without any grandfather in my life. My mother’s father died when she was a child and my grandmother never remarried. My father’s father lived in a distant state and for various reasons had little contact with our family. There is one old picture of me stiffly standing next to my grandfather, but I have no memory of the visit. So I no direct experience of grandfathering.

Jonathan and FarFar

But I did see how my father loved his grandchildren. Even though he and my mother were in distant Washington state, they made frequent trips to Minnesota to see their three grandchildren. My son, Jonathan, got the special attention since he was bit older and they shared a definite love of baseball and any outdoor activity. They camped and hiked together, enjoying the wonder of God’s creation.  Jonathan loved his FarFar (Norwegian for “Father’s Father).

When my father entered hospice care for cancer, it was Jonathan, age eight, who wanted to travel with me for his final days. As he sat by his grandfather’s bed, Jonathan told him about how the baseball season was progressing and especially how Ken Griffey, Jr. was playing. His deep abiding love for his FarFar survives to this day.

As I held my new grandson Tuesday, waves of emotions and thoughts rolled over me. Jack Keller is Jonathan’s son. I marveled at the wonder and beauty of a new-born child. I thought about the years to come: taking Jack camping and hiking, perhaps even running in a road race with Jack and Jonathan someday. At a deep level I felt my Dad’s memory and his joy in holding Jonathan some 26 years ago.

David, Robert, Jack, Jonathan, and John KellerMy brothers and sisters were able to see and hold Jack before scattering. As my brother Robert held Jack he expressed what many of us felt. “I feel like crying; this is so special and unique.” Family continues to hold value, from generation to generation. After all, God created us to be connected through the generations.

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. (Exodus 34:6-7)

Lord Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you, for each new generation.

The Father Challenge

This post is a little longer than most, but it ties yesterday’s post with Father’s Day

A favorite author of mine is John Ortberg. He once wrote about his three small children that when they would go out to eat, there was only one place they ever wanted to go, and it was “the shrine of the golden arches.” His children seemed to be convinced that they had a McDonald’s-shaped vacuum in their souls. The kids always want the same thing: a combination of the food — about which they really don’t much care — and a little prize. It’s not much of a prize, really, just some cheap little plastic thing, but in a moment of marketing genius, the folks at McDonald’s gave it a particular name: the Happy Meal. It is “the meal of great joy.” You aren’t just buying chicken McNuggets and a plastic princess, you’re buying HAPPINESS.

Every now and then he tried to talk them out of it. He told them to order whatever they wanted and he would give them a quarter so they can buy their own trinket and everyone would come out ahead. But the chant went up, “We want a Happy Meal. We want a Happy Meal.” Other customers stared at the skinflint of a father who won’t buy his kids the meal of great joy.

So, he bought them the Happy Meal. And it makes them happy –for about a minute and a half. The problem was that the happy wore off. The contentment did not last.

You never hear of a young adult coming back to his parents and saying, “Gee, Dad, remember that Happy Meal you gave me? That’s where I found lasting contentment and lifelong joy. I knew if I could just have that Happy Meal, I would be content for a lifetime, and I am. Thank you. There’ll be no need for therapy for this boy.”

You would think, kids being fairly bright these days, that sooner or later they would catch on to this deal and say, “You know, I keep getting these Happy Meals and they don’t give me lasting happiness, so I’m not going to be a sucker any more. I’m not going to set myself up for frustration and disappointment any more.” But it never happens. They keep buying Happy Meals and they keep not working.

Of course, only a child would be so foolish. Only a kid would be so naive as to think that contentment could be acquired through some kind of external acquisition. Only someone very young would have a high enough stupid quotient to believe that lasting happiness could come by a change in external circumstances. Right?

Ortberg’s final reflection is this: The truth about human beings is that as we grow up, we don’t get any smarter; our Happy Meals just keep getting more expensive. The world around us tells us that happiness is always just one Happy Meal away. That new car, new boat, new deck, new lake cabin will somehow meet our need for happiness. Our ever-growing pursuit of happiness rarely seems to make us happy.

Perhaps we need a whole new perspective. A perspective Jesus offer for us.

“If anyone wants to become my followers, let them deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose themselves?” Mark 8:34, 36

Where do you find your source of happiness?

Lord Jesus, show me your path to joy.