I am sure you have heard people say, “You will grow up to be just like your parents”, and for me, that is scary but so true. I talk like my father, laugh like my father and am passionate about the same things my father is. It’s scary because I now have three children that are most likely going to carry on some of the same traits I currently hold. There are, however, many hidden treasures and life lessons passed on to me through the things my father taught me.
I will never forget the instructions my father gave me during our first deer hunt together. He placed me in my tree stand and told me three things. First, he told me to not get out of the stand under any circumstance; no matter how cold I got or bored I had become I was to stay put. Secondly, he told me to not fall asleep. (That was hard for a 12-year-old boy who was pulled out of bed at 3 am!) Thirdly, he told me where to aim. He gave me clear instructions on where to hold the crosshairs depending on where the deer was standing. I followed those instructions that day and was successful on my first deer hunt, and many more in the years to come.
The lessons that he taught me that day have become more valuable to me now that I’m older. I can remember the day I stood beside my wife and vowed to be her husband. That is a stand I cannot climb out of under any circumstance. I remember standing in an airport in Texas about to board a plane for a tour in Iraq and thinking “what am I doing?” I remember thinking that day that I needed to ‘stay in the stand.’
There are also many times after a long day at work that I just want to go home and sleep, but my kids want my time and attention. I realize then the value of the lesson to not fall asleep and to seize the moment to spend time with my family. And of course, knowing where to aim is a lesson that has helped me keep my eyes focused on Jesus Christ. That way I can follow God’s commands in Deuteronomy 6:7:
“Impress them [the Lord’s commands] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Every week at camp I hear stories of fathers who aren’t involved in the lives of their children–its heart-wrenching. I am so thankful that our Heavenly Father has no orphans. May we remember to stay in the stand, not fall asleep, and teach our children to aim for Christ.