This morning I sit with my son in my arms. He woke too early and was determined not to return to sleep. He put up a good fight, but just now I have finally won as I watch his chest rise and fall and his fists clutch his Curious George bed-buddy. I won partly because I am bigger, stronger, and more patient; but I won mostly because I’m his dad and I know what he really wants. He wants to be held, smiled at, and squeezed in just a certain way. My son wants me to look into his face. It works every time.
I was never as happy to see my dad’s face as one October day in 1995. I was a 7-year-old wanderer deep in a strange city, separated from my family and not clever enough to find them. I vividly remember running around Seattle’s wharf sobbing, desperate to find a familiar face but convinced I never would. I remember a kind store clerk who sat me way up on a stool and gave me popcorn. I remember realizing that he was calling the police, which meant I had a serious problem. I remember watching the crowd of strangers streaming by. I remember the helplessness of my childish despair. What I remember most, though, was the moment I saw in that stream of strangers a face I knew.
I’ll never forget the liveliness I felt when I leapt off that tall stool and sprinted with all I had, yelling for my dad’s attention. Nor will I forget him turning toward me and throwing down his arms to gather me up. I don’t remember anything after that.
There have been many other times I have looked into my dad’s face and found comfort. As an adult, I see it in a richer way. I find comfort in knowing that my dad has made it this far by God’s grace, and I can trust that grace for myself and my children too. I see in him an example of taking one step at a time in faith, living for the benefit of others, and finding joy in the ordinaries of life. I’ve learned these things from my dad, as he did from his.
There are four generations of us Hoblit men on this earth today. We aren’t here forever. Someday, we will stand together before our Father and look on His face. I want to see His smile. In the meantime, I’ll live the example left for me: the life of Jesus Christ, the face of my Father.
“[Christ] is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature…” (Hebrews 1:3 NASB)
Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad. I love you. See you soon.
P.S. Here’s a father’s song that fills my spirit.