October 3, 2009
When it comes to the five love languages my dad speaks “gift-giving” fluently. From pearls to purses and cars to a fur coat, he has showered me with gifts galore. Although I love the things, he includes himself in the package. Every summer he spoiled all four of his kids with a Disneyland extravaganza that included rides, treats, and souvenirs. He was the biggest kid among us riding every ride and eating all the junk! And when his grandchildren were born he continued the tradition. Dad emulates my Heavenly Father “who loved the world so much that He gave…” (John 3:16). Giving reflects God’s heart.
But the best present my father ever gave me was his presence at key times in my life. When divorce shattered my family at the age of eight he traveled from California to Michigan to surprise his kids on their first Christmas without him. Dinner was interrupted by a knock on the door and in walked the skinniest Santa I’d ever seen. He beckoned, “Sit on my lap and tell me what you want.” I thought, “I’m not in the mood for a present.” Just then Santa’s eyes twinkled as he pulled off his white beard. Underneath the disguise I discovered the loving face of my dad!
When I broke my leg downhill skiing in high school, healing included 6 weeks of traction. While I was literally pinned down to the bed, my dad again made the long trip cross country to consult with the doctors. He ensured that I received the best treatment possible. And he didn’t come empty handed. He brought an envelope full of hand signed photos from celebrities including Mac Davis, Buddy Hackett, and Liberace who all wished me a speedy recovery. They decorated my room, drew praise from the hospital staff, and reminded me that I’m not alone.
Ever since my cancer diagnosis last June, dad promised to start every day of my treatment with a phone call. For over 120 days, between 8:00 and 9:00 AM he’s rung me up to talk about everything from politics to my prognosis. But before the calls came the hospital visits. All six day he showed up with a token of his love like flowers, Starbuck, journals, and jammies.
This week Dad once again offers the gift of his presence as he accompanies me to chemo number four. He’s already thinking of distractions like playing cards or cracking jokes. He’ll run out at lunch time to pick up whatever I’m craving. Through his actions I’m reminded of God’s promise to David the psalmist, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Do you know someone who’s fighting an uphill battle? Are there folks in your neighborhood who are all alone? Can you think of an acquaintance from church who’re convalescing at home? Reflect your heavenly Father by offering them the gift of your presence. And if you show up with a token of your love, all the better.