“Point your elbow! Quit dropping your shoulder!”
As annoying as those words were from the batter box, how I wish I could hear them one more time. From the point I could hold a ball and mitt or swing a bat, my dad started taking me out to the playground. He taught me how to field ground balls; he hit countless infield hits to me as the pitcher; and he intentionally made me run all over the outfield to chase the ball when he would smack a homerun, just because he could. He taught me how to play ball, just like I was one of the boys. But I knew I wasn’t just one of the boys, I was his princess.
“Come on, Beth Ann, let’s go fishin’ at Rec Park.
I’m making my famous dough balls.” Yes, my dad taught me how to fish, too. And he had this recipe for dough balls – I don’t know if he made it up or where he got it, but I do remember he would use an old tube sock to make it and you could smell the yeast throughout the house. He swore it was the only guaranteed bait that the fish would bite on, and he was usually right. Today, I can’t go fishing without thinking of my dad. It’s one of my favorite recreational activities. He made me bait my own hook, and he made me take the fish off when I caught it. Of course, once I got married, I never told my husband that I knew how to do such things, so let’s keep that between us.
“You wanna see my scar?”
He would say while shaking his “World’s Best Lover” belt buckle. That was one of his favorite lines. While the recipient of his one-liner turned ghastly white at what might be coming, my dad would then lift up his arm and point to a little scar on the back of his elbow. The shock value alone was worth watching. He loved to make people laugh with his quick wit, and in regard to that, I am my father’s daughter. I have a lot of him in me. Sure, I have his orneriness. Definitely his strong will. But mostly, I have his quick wit. It’s what I like best about myself, actually. And when I see that same wit in my children, I am quick to point out that they can thank their Grandpa McNabb for that attribute.
Today on Father’s Day, I honor my dad. He loved Jesus, and I often woke up to find him sitting at the dining room table reading his Bible or praying. I was his “ditter” and he was my daddy…my daddy who made a difference in my life.
How I wish Jacob and Amber could have really known their pop-pop the way I did. Amber remembers him a little, Jacob not at all. But as incredible of a role model that I had, I dare say that Jacob and Amber’s daddy may give mine a run for his money. My best memories of my dad surround his non-stop antics, along with the quality time we spent together. When my children look back at my husband, Frank, I believe the thing they will remember most is the Godly example that he was and the wisdom he freely and constantly imparted to them.
I have never met a wiser, calmer, more humble soul. He knows just the right way to counter-act a hot temper. He reasons his way through conversations with Jacob and Amber to help them dissect problems to see the bigger picture. Earlier this year, Amber was so stressed about college. Where to go, what to do with her life, how are we going to pay for it, and how will she ever manage 4 or 8 more years of school when she’s so exhausted from studying right now. (Typical questions of an
over-achiever!) In fact, the stress level was so high that she wouldn’t even open the college letters that she was receiving en mass each day.
But Frank, in his best daddy-wisdom, said, “Sweetheart, let’s try to break it down." He then went on to ask her what makes her happiest. He asked if there were any elements or experiences in her life that she knew had to be part of her career. He asked questios like, "Do you want to go to college far from home or close to home? Do you want to go to a Christian school? What elements must be in your future job for you to feel fulfilled?”
Little by little, the stress level started to go down as the fog began to clear for Amber. Although she wasn’t sure of her career choice at that point, through the wisdom gleaned from her daddy, she had determined that she wanted to go to a Christian college, probably double major in Cross-Cultural Studies and Spanish (possibly working for a non-profit organization), and because she’s a bit of a homebody, she wanted the school to be about 3 hours from home. (That final college qualification was quickly amended to be 3 hours from home or 15 minutes from a beach!) Opening the letters from colleges were no longer a daunting task for Amber. If they didn’t meet the criteria she had
established, thanks to the wisdom from her dad, she would just pitch them in the
trash without another thought.
Wisdom. Some people have it, some don’t. And Frank Banfill, the father of my children and the love of my life has it in surplus. He models Christ for our children, and he has lived a life of humility for them to see as they grow up. He's in Tanzania this Father's Day, and in fact, he's already gone to bed for the night, but I want to publicy honor my husband today. There’s no doubt that he's a dad who is making a daily difference in the lives of Jacob and Amber, and I’m so grateful.
I would love to sit here and say my dad was the most awesome father in the world. Jacob and Amber could build a pretty strong case of the same for Frank, too. But the truth is that the judge would throw both cases out of court. You see, God in heaven, my heavenly father, my Abba Daddy, trumps all. I cannot even imagine what my life would look like without having a relationship with Him.
So many people don’t get that the relationship is the key. They say, “I believe in God,” and they think that’s their ticket to heaven. But the Bible says that the demons believe in God, and they’re afraid. No, just knowing isn’t the answer.
It’s like this. Let’s just say you grew up with a wayward father. You knew he was out there somewhere, but you would have no reason to trust him, and you certainly wouldn’t have faith in him. Why? Because you have no relationship with him. He’s not shown an interest in you or even acted as though he cared. On the flip side, if you were blessed to grow up with your dad in your life and you
have a good relationship with him, would you even doubt his advice or guidance? Most would say no. Why? Because you trust him. Because you know he has your best interests at heart. Because you know He loves you and cares for you.
I’ve just finished a Bible study a few weeks ago, and one recurring theme was that God pursues us.
Unlike the wayward father, my Father pursues me. In Genesis 15:1, He came to Abram. In Genesis 3:7, he came to Cain and told him the right way to live his life. I Peter 3:12 says that the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer. Isaiah 30:18 says the Lord longs to be gracious to us, and He’s waiting on high to have compassion on us. Psalm 10:17 says He listens to our cry. Exodus 14:14 says He will fight for us. And I John 4:16 says that we know and can rely on the love God has for us! Those are some pretty strong words!
All these things sure sound like attributes of a great Father, don’t they? Someone who loves me unconditionally. Someone who will fight for me. Someone who listens to me. Someone I can count on. Someone who guides me in truth and shows me the right way to go.
John 8:32 says “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And the truth is
that it’s not by my own works that I can be saved, it’s only through the grace of God. (Ephesians 2:8-9) The key is putting your faith and trust in Him as the only true way to heaven. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And what did my
Heavenly Father do? He loved me so much that He sent his son Jesus to earth. He lived a perfect life, and He suffered a terrible death, for your sin and mine. When He rose from the dead, he defeated sin and death, and He made a way for us to get to Heaven. Doing good things and living a good life won’t get me there. It’s only by having a point in my life when I’ve made a conscious decision to put my faith and trust in Him as the only true way. John 14:6 says “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father, except through Me.” (through what Jesus did on the cross!)
I love the play on words in this old song… “He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt, I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace, all day long, Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.”
I’m so thankful that my mom introduced me to my Heavenly Father. As a small child, as best I could,
I knelt beside my bed and asked Him to forgive me of my sins and come into my life and save me. I told Him I wanted to live for Him, and I put my faith and trust in Him, and Him alone for salvation.
Whether you had a great relationship with your dad or a terrible one, the truth is that if you don’t already, you can have a relationship with this same God that I do. He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:23). He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5). And He promises, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with your whole heart.” If you don’t know Him personally, why not start today? What’s keeping you?
He’s a Dad who made a difference in my life. In fact, He’s THE DAD who made THE ONLY DIFFERENCE in my life.