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A Father’s Affirmation

My 87 year old father had just put out an email request to the family.  He recently had to change his vehicle license plate and received a new number, AOF 0073.  In my father’s always creative way, he wanted the letters “AOF” to mean something.  He had decided that the “OF” would best represent him by standing for “Old Fogey”, but he wasn’t sure about the “A”.  He requested that the family submit suggestions for the “A” for a vote.

A number of email exchanges followed suggesting such thoughts as “Active, Alert, Abominable, Aberrant, Absent-minded, Alive, Almost, Animated, Aviator (my father was a WWII pilot), or Awesome.”  A late suggestion came in, “Accellerando”.  It was admitted that it probably wasn’t a word, but sure captured the spirit of my father’s driving habits.

I watched everyone jumping into the discussion, but I had not ventured in.  After a few days and no thought on my part given to it, I felt as though my family and particularly my father deserved my investment in this discussion.  So I cracked open a dictionary to the “A’s” and began jotting down ideas.  I then put out an email mentioning a number of suggestions.  Some were obvious like American and Authentic.  Others emphasized certain aspects of my father’s personality or experience, such as, Artistic (since he still is a very active and passionate musician) and Ambulatory (since he has been and still is a very accomplished and active walker).  But the one I finally settled on as my personal submission was “Aspiring” because of its double meaning.  On one hand it captures his very active and youthful spirit by not committing him to total “Old Fogey” status yet. He’s an “aspiring” Old Fogey. On the other hand, this description emphasizes his most admirable trait – his zeal to keep aspiring to new challenges even at 87.

Later that evening, my father broadcasted throughout our family email network that he had selected my submission of “Aspiring” as the winner.  As silly as this whole process seemed, and as insignificant as the meaning of letters on a license plate are, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride over this selection.  It wasn’t the license plate or the family debate or my winning nomination that mattered. I realized that what welled up inside was the significance of my father’s approval even at 55 years old.

I realized that like most of us, we never outgrow a desire to be the apple of our father’s eye, the exhilaration of having our Dad’s approval.

It brought me back to a passage in Matthew when after Jesus’ baptism by John in the River Jordan, the clouds parted and the Spirit like a dove lighted upon Jesus and a voice from heaven spoke saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  Even Jesus needed his father’s approval.

The great news is this – even if your father is never able to express his approval, you can have a Father in heaven that is ready and willing to say of you, “This is my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.”  This is the most significant of all approvals.  One that can well up a confidence and joy within you that will carry you into eternity.  We all need our Father’s affirmation.

Tom Reynolds

A True Anointing

Sims was sharing his testimony of deliverance through Jesus Christ with the other residents at His Way.  Every resident before they graduate the first six months of our program must teach a graduation class.  Usually the class is a personal testimony accounting the ravages that addiction brought their lives, what they have come to understand and live over the past six months, and encouragement to the others who are on a similar journey…encouragement that there is hope and better days on the horizon.

As Sims revealed his pain filled story of personal loss, the death of dear friends, and his own numerous brushes with death through overdoses and accidents, he began to talk about God’s purpose and calling through these tragedies.  He shared that he believed that God was calling him into some type of ministry through these experiences.   He believed that these painful experiences were not in vain, but to prepare him to help others.   He particularly felt a pull toward reaching out to teens to alert them to the dangers before it is too late.  As he shared these revelations in his life, he then turned to a passage that he had just read days before that he called “fire”.  It was a passage that he believed summed up best what he believed God was calling him to, a passage of true personal inspiration.  He then proceeded to read to us with impassioned fire Isaiah 61:1, 2, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

As he closed his Bible tears filled his eyes as expressed how this best summarized his calling.  My jaw dropped and heart leapt.  I quickly flipped in my Bible to Luke 4:17-21 with my heart bursting with joy.  Sims without knowing it had just read the same passage Jesus had selected to read in his own hometown synagogue to announce his ministry and purpose.  This was not just some random inspirational scripture that Sims had run across, but in fact his own Savior’s personal calling to ministry and summary of his purpose.  This was no random incident, but in fact a true anointing of God’s call on a young man’s heart.

I shared the Luke passage with the class, and Sims in particular, and just for a moment, I felt I was truly on the holiest of ground as God was corralling a young man’s heart into a life calling.

A true anointing!

Tom Reynolds