I love it when autumn arrives each year. There are a thousand things I love about fall, the cool mornings, pumpkin flavored things, and of course, college football. It doesn’t matter who is playing. I just love the games. I love the bands on the field at halftime, and the great environment on campus on gameday Saturdays. Everyone has teams you support and many of us have teams that we cheer against. For many people we root against the rivals of our favorite school, which makes sense. Several years ago I noticed that I had teams that I hoped would lose each and every Saturday, but they weren’t really rivals of my alma mater. The names of those teams aren’t important (Tennessee, Penn State, and Arkansas), what matters is where that strange dislike came from. Was I allergic to that horrific UT orange? Did a razorback chase me as a child? I couldn’t figure it out until my brother enlightened me. When I asked him about it, he answered matter-of-factly, “Pop hated those teams”. My Dad was a college football fan as well, and watching games with him on Saturdays will be a memory I wrap my arms around for the rest of my life. I don’t remember him disliking those teams or saying anything about it. I guess I just absorbed my dislike of those teams from him somehow without fully realizing it.
I think we all absorb things from our fathers. Even when we don’t realize or fully appreciate it. It may be something as simple as how we hold a fork or something as prominent as our quick temper. Early Jewish and Christian writers described God as a Father. I think we all absorb things from him as well, even if our relationship with him isn’t very good. I think one of the most important jobs for Christians today, is to look for those glimpses of our Father in each other. Not only do we need to find it in other Christians, but in those who do not embrace the Christian faith. Glimpses of unexplained goodness. Patience that appears out of nowhere. Kindness, forgiveness, and mercy are all things we have absorbed from our Father. There’s no other explanation for their presence in our lives. When we take the time to look for those things in others, we are able to care for them more fully. We are less likely to make enemies of them, tearing them down with our words. They are family after all. Even if they haven’t realized it yet.
There aren’t many people left living who knew my Dad well enough to tell me if they see him in me still. I hope I reflect him. Even more than that I hope I am able to reflect my Father in heaven, even if it’s a dim reflection at times. Also, I hope we can all find that reflection in each other, however dim it may be. May it lead us to be more patient, more gracious, and less willing to give up on each other.