Some blog readers might not know that, in addition to my three fantasy series, I also have two non-fiction books for men, The Image of a Father and Spit and Polish for Husbands. From time to time, I will post an excerpt from one of the books. With Fathers' Day approaching, you might think about getting a copy of one of these books, especially for a new dad or newlywed husband.
It's important, however, to be sensitive. Some men might not take it the right way. They might think you're sending a signal that they are not the husbands or fathers they ought to be. That's why I recommend these for newbies in the field of fathering and husbanding. They might know they need help.
Still, I'm sure anyone, man or woman, will enjoy these books, and they are very inexpensive, only five dollars plus shipping. Click here to order an autographed copy of The Image of a Father, or click here to order Spit and Polish for Husbands.
This excerpt is from the introduction to The Image of a Father.
With summer twilight casting a feather-soft glow on my daughter’s drooping eyes, I sing her toward dreamland, each word shushed in an envelope of whispers.
Oh Lord, you’re beautiful.
Your face is all I seek.
For when your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me. (Lyrics by Keith Green. © Birdwing Music/BMG Songs. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
I kiss her forehead and watch her gentle smile fade. Tight wrinkles dig into her brow, signaling a question at the crossroads of her mind. “Daddy?” she asks, her eyes fluttering open. “What does God look like?”
What a question! How can I possibly answer it? A hundred duties await my attention. Every night brings a tug-of-war of fatherly responsibilities. On one side, bills and fix-it projects pull like gargantuan gods, busy work that must wait for every juvenile head to finally nestle in its pillow. On the other side, the peaceful solitude of gentle lullabies and butterfly kisses pull back, nightly reveries with my children that transcend time. Tonight my daughter wins the battle and I tuck her covers in at the sides as I try to think of an answer that will make sense to her world of concrete realities.
“Jesus told us that God is spirit,” I begin. “We can’t see our heavenly Father with our eyes, but we can sort of see Him by watching other people.”
“Well, that’s an easy one. Remember what Jesus said? ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father.’ Jesus is full of truth, mercy, and love. So is God the Father. If we watch Jesus, we’ll know what God the Father is like.”
“But Jesus isn’t here anymore. I can’t watch Him.”
I stroke her hair, aware of her lovely lack of abstract thought. She’s right. Jesus isn’t here anymore. Though I could explain the theological truth of “Christ in us,” the indwelling Holy Spirit who reveals the character of God to our hearts and minds, such a nebulous concept is surely out of her reach. There no longer walks a flesh and blood Savior who fills our eyes with the Father’s glory. At this moment I fully realize the gravity of my position in her sight, and its burden squeezes my chest. Dare I tell her my thoughts?
I take a deep breath and draw my hands back to my lap. “Then it’s up to me to show you what God looks like.”
She grins at me, her sleepiness chased away by playful thoughts. “Really? Did you go up to heaven and take a picture of Him or something?”
I poke her nose with my finger. “No, silly goose. It’s just that I’m your father, and it’s my job to show you what God is like. When God makes a father, He pours a bunch of His own qualities into him, the stuff that makes good fathers.”
“Like protection, guidance, and—” I pause for effect and then tickle her ribs. “And anything that makes you smile.”
She giggles and pushes my arms away, and I gently take her hands into mine. When she settles down, she grins again and says, “I think I’d rather have a picture.”
I straighten my frame, my head held high, absurdly showing off my profile. “Well, then, think of me as your picture of God.” We both laugh, and I tuck her in tightly once more, whispering to settle her thoughts. “I can’t be everything God is, Sweetheart, but I can show you how He loves you like a father. I’m not a picture from a camera, but I am like an image of His fathering ways.” I caress her cheek with tender fingers and add, “Will that be enough?”
She smiles and her eyes begin drooping again, her voice stretching into a yawn. “That’ll be enough.”
I watch her eyelids close, and I sigh. Will I be able to fulfill my promise? Can I possibly bridge the gap between heaven and earth and reflect God’s perfect love in a way she can understand?
What does God look like, anyway? Do I know Him well enough myself? I pray that my feeble attempts will be empowered by God’s own desire to show His fathering character to my children.
With tears welling in my eyes, I finish my song, hoping my sweet girl will learn the everlasting song of God’s love, fusing her soul with God as she bears witness of His fathering heart in mine.
I want to take your word and shine it all around;
First, help me just to live it, Lord.
And when I’m doing well
Help me to never seek a crown;
For my reward is giving glory to you.