Father As Servant

A good father serves his children, as Jesus served his followers.

One morning last October, my husband Brent rose at 4:30 A.M. to shoulder one of the most frightening responsibilities a parent can have-he was about to drive our 16-year-old son, TJ, through the pre-dawn darkness to the Navy Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. TJ was scheduled to undergo major abdominal surgery at 6 A.M. After dropping our younger son at school at 8:15, I drove nervously through rush-hour traffic to the hospital, arriving just as TJ was being wheeled back to his room.

Naturally, the first thing his dad and I did was take a close look to make sure TJ was still alive. (Has any parent ever completely trusted even the most skilled surgeon not to accidentally kill his child?) TJ looked pale and groggy, disheveled and confused. A sheet covered most of his body. Pushing the gurney into a corner, a cheerful and chatty male nurse carefully lifted TJ to his feet and settled him onto the bed.

We gently touched his face and spoke to him reassuringly to make sure he knew we were there, and that it was all over. Then we sat down to wait, our parental anxiety gradually receding into the background. Glancing out the window, I watched the usual rush hour traffic flow silently by many floors below.

An hour went by. TJ was becoming more wakeful and feeling some pain. The surgeon came in to check him and announce that our son was ready to go home. Brent stood up and pulled shut a curtain designed to swing in a U-shape around the bed to provide a bit of privacy. I sat and listened.

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I heard the rustle of clothing and gentle words of encouragement. It was evident my husband was dressing TJ-something he had not done since our six-foot teenager was a six-year-old child.

My gaze traveled downward, attracted by movement. Beneath the abbreviated curtain, I saw my husband's khaki-covered knees appear. He was kneeling on the floor in order to put on TJ's socks and sneakers.

I was suddenly reminded of Christ getting down on His knees to wash the feet of His disciples, illustrating, through soap, water, and a rough towel, that a true leader is a servant. I was overwhelmed with love for my husband-love and gratitude.

 

Most fathers I know would lay down their lives for their children-just as Christ laid down His life for his flock. But how many dads follow Christ's other example? How many of them willingly, unthinkingly, get down on their knees to serve children who have grown bigger than they?

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Anne Morse
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