I opened my Daily Light devotional earlier this week, and there it was: The Date: June 9.
My father’s birthday. He would have been 100, had he lived to celebrate it on this earth. How much better—for him at least—to celebrate in heaven.
Suddenly I couldn’t read another word in my devotional. My eyes filled, and I was flooded with memories. Pictures, actually.
The first picture that came to mind was Dad kneeling at his prayer chair in our tiny living room in the house where we lived when I was a little girl. Like him, I was always an early riser. When I woke and tiptoed out of my room, he was always there first in the living room, kneeling as he did before his Lord at the beginning of every day. I don’t think he ever referred to a “prayer chair.” It was just the way I always thought of it.
Come to think of it, I often picture his life in chairs. Ironic, really, since he was perhaps the hardest-working man I ever knew. A college professor, an interim pastor, a writer, even a sometimes gardener (having grown up on a farm, he actually didn’t like gardening so much; but it was a way to make ends meet to grow as much of our food as possible, so Saturdays often found him—and me!—working in a vegetable garden plot provided by Wheaton College to help professors supplement their meager salaries). He was always on the move.
But still, there were the chairs. Some years after the prayer chair, there was the chair he sat in on those early mornings when I was in sixth grade. We lived in a parsonage next to the church where he served as interim pastor while writing a textbook on the Old Testament. Mornings were his best writing time, and since the piano teacher I then studied with required 3 hours of practice a day, Dad and I would make our way over to the church at 5 AM many a weekday morning so he could write in the study and I could get an hour of practice in on the piano at the church. I can still see the chair he sat in.
Then there was the chair he kept across from his desk in the home study he had in a subsequent home. When my brother or I bounded up the stairs at the end of a school day, Dad was almost always there working at his desk, his classes over for the day, writing or studying. The study door was always open. It was clearly intentional. I knew he was hoping David or I would pop in and talk about our day—which we usually did.
In his latter years he and Mom moved to a beautiful condo in Florida where they eagerly awaited visits from their now grown-up kids. I can see the chair he sat in during the last conversation I had with him, just before the opening of a major new chapter for Mom to Mom. After years of experience with publishers, he savored every detail about the publication process that was underway. Always, always interested in his kids. Always wanting to listen. Always praying for us . . . and for every one of his grandkids. In fact, that same listening chair doubled as a prayer chair when he and Mom prayed together every morning. One of my favorite memories is the mornings I got to join them when visiting.
Toward the end of his life he spent more and more time (when he wasn’t swimming or playing tennis—I told you he was always on the move!) in his favorite rocking chair, which he positioned so he could see the sunset out over the water on lovely Florida evenings. This quaint antique rocker now sits in our lower level family room. Most of the time it sits silent these days, a quiet reminder of the importance of chairs. And of fathers who take make time for their children—both to sit and listen, and to kneel and pray.
Happy Father’s Day to every one of those fathers!