Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dad's Arms

I can still feel my Dad's arms as he gave me a bear hug when I left home. He and I both knew from that day forward our relationship would be changing: I was getting married and would no longer be under his roof. Oh, we would visit, of course, and there would still be times when we'd reflect back on how it used to be, but life was going to be different. He had strong arms and his hug spoke volumes to me. In his strength I knew he would always be there for me; he would support me, and he would still be Dad. That's just the way it was.

Over the years I've reflected on how Dad's arms were so important to me. I look at pictures of when he held me after I came home from the hospital, his arms holding me next to his chest. I remember how his arms steadied my bicycle as I wobbled forward in a quest to ride a two-wheeler. I can see his bare arms on the shovel as he dug a foundation for the porch. I smile as I recall the weight of his arm as he put it around me as I sat in church. And then there was fishing. His arms would swing in a great, fluid movement as he snapped a lure across the lake -- dropping it into the widening circles where the fish had just broke water.

Over the years Dad's arms grew weaker, yet they never quite lost their power to make a difference. He continued to offer his arms in the service of his church -- using them to count the offerings or do something needing to be done inside. He used his arms to dig garden beds for Mom. Her own diminished capabilities were the perfect opening for him to plant flowers that she could see from her favorite window. Though he was moving slower by this time, his arms were always in service for others.

This past weekend I listened to a sermon that considered Luther's view of vocation and how we all wear the masks of God. In other words, Luther was telling us we are the hands, feet, and arms of God in service to others. That struck me as I remembered how many times Dad used his arms -- his hands -- in service to others. As a consequence, he inspired me to continue the tradition of using my arms -- my hands -- in service to God.

I thank God for Dad's arms. They were there for me; they were there for others, and they were not idle.

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