June 2012

Post date: May 30, 2012 5:8:22 PM

Fathers and Sons

Father’s Day is June 17th this year. Like a number of you I am a father and yet remain a son. I was and am still blessed with having a very good father. As a boy growing up my Father, Jerry Hickman, loved me and taught me and guided me in life. Later as a younger man, we shared the special bond of both being Lutheran pastors. Dad was my mentor in many ways. We had so many good conversations about faith and the Bible and the church. If I had a difficult situation in the congregation I could always count on my Dad to be a listening ear and offer some good advice if I wanted it.

That is no longer possible. Alzheimer’s is rapidly taking its toll on my 80 year old father. Carrying on a conversation is becoming increasingly more difficult for him and his short term memory is gone. Life is mostly about eating and sleeping for him now. But my father still knows me and gives me a big hug when I come to visit. Thankfully, my mother is still in good health. Please pray for her and all caregivers. My relationship with my father has changed, but then life is change.

While remaining a son, I am at the same time a father to my two teenage sons, Steven and Kyle. Steven is my adopted son. Kyle is my biological son. I strive to be a good father to my sons and like every other dad, I don’t always succeed. Let me confess something here. It’s easy to be a good father to Kyle. He’s a great kid. I don’t have to tell him to do his homework. He just does it and gets good grades on his own. Kyle is social and athletic and I enjoy watching him play basketball and baseball. He’s involved in church and youth group. It’s easy for me to talk with Kyle and walk the dog with him and spend time with him. (Kyle, I apologize if I’m embarrassing you and I hope I’m not putting too much pressure on you!)

It’s harder for me to be a good father to Steven. Steven is autistic and bi-polar and basically wants as little as possibly to do with me. He stopped giving hugs long ago. Even as a little guy the only time he said, “I love you, Dad” was when Cathy put the words in his mouth. His autistic mind cannot really grasp the concept of God. He is uncomfortable in crowds, so we stopped bringing him to church several years ago. Basically, he was ruining the worship experience for the rest of the family. Steven will be 18 years old this month, but remains about 8 years old emotionally and socially. He will be taking extra years of high school and working through Elmview to try and find a direction for his life. A few years ago I laid aside most of my hopes and dreams for Steven. Now I just try to love him for who he is. We seem to have a more relaxed relationship now.

All of us earthly fathers are imperfect sinners. There is only one perfect Father: God our Heavenly Father. I hope even children who have had bad earthly fathers can see in God a very loving,patient and everlasting Father. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus says we can address Almighty God as Abba, which means “Dad” or “Papa.” We always have the love and guidance of God our Dad in this earthly life. And when our earthly journey is over, our Father welcomes us into the everlasting home with him, where all is peace and joy and love and wholeness. In this earthly life we may be fathers and/or sons, mothers and/or daughters, but we are now and will always be, children of our Heavenly Father.

Peace in Christ,

Pastor Dennis