By Rick Cowman
As we get older, we begin to look at life differently; at least we should! I crossed the half century mark a number of years ago, and with that crossing I have begun to consider the impact my life has made, especially on my children. And as a father of six children, this contemplation causes me to think about my own father and his influence in my life.
My dad went to be with the Lord on October 17, 1996. Dad loved God’s Word, and he loved its Author, Jesus Christ! When I was 9 years old, I came to a place of understanding what Jesus had done for me, and I personally responded to Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and entered into a personal relationship with Jesus. This was the beginning of my walk with Christ, and as I grew older I witnessed my dad’s model of the practical living out a life in Christ. Dad’s decision to trust Jesus with his life on earth and his eternal destiny has left a legacy and a pattern for me to follow in his footsteps. I had the opportunity to learn from his life, his love for God, and his love for God’s Word (and I recognize everyone reading this didn’t have that opportunity, so I’m very thankful I did!).
My dad’s favorite verses of Scripture were Romans 10:9-13…”If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation…for whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved!” And he was not ashamed of the gospel, and shared it with anyone who would listen. Dad modeled many truths for me through the testimony of his life. But let me share the one that has had the greatest impact. Dad’s life was one of CONTENTMENT.
If we’re honest, most of us would have to admit contentment is not the first word that comes to our mind in describing ourselves. But my dad lived it. As I consider Dad’s life, his life verses would have to be Philippians 4, verses 11-13, and 19. Here they are: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength…And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!”
My dad was a farmer all his life. And in that vocation, as some of you may know, many factors enter in to the bottom line of profit and loss at the end of the year. You are always at the mercy of the weather and the markets. But Dad understood that His God was in control over all those things and that His mercy and grace would be sufficient, whatever that year brought to him. He also knew you couldn’t out give God and taught me to give whether I had it or not. Unfortunately, what my dad taught didn’t sink in to my life in my younger years. But as I’ve grown older and look back on how God has taken care of my family, whatever the circumstances, my trust in Him has grown as well. After all, Paul said he had “learned” to be content. It didn’t happen overnight, but through all the trials of his life he found his God to be faithful!
It’s interesting that the word translated “content” in these verses means to accept our circumstances, knowing God has promised to supply everything we need according to His riches in Jesus Christ! Contentment also recognizes that God has a plan in the midst of our present circumstances, and that plan is to teach us to trust in Him! As 1 Timothy 6:15 says, “He is the blessed Controller of all things!” (Phillips) God has promised to give us grace when we need it, and I’ve found that often that grace comes in the nick of time! We can trust Him to be faithful. I learned that from my dad’s example, and from my own personal experience with my “heavenly” Father!
I’m so thankful I had a dad who left a legacy for me to follow and pass along to my children. What will your children learn from your example? What are you leaving behind? Will they be able to thank you for it later in life? We need to keep one thing in mind: it’s later than we think. We don’t have much time to make an impact; in fact, we may not have tomorrow! I pray that those of us who are fathers will consider our impact on those young lives around us and that we can leave a legacy of contentment for them to follow! Influence is something that is modeled and therefore is more often caught than taught.
Thanks, Dad, for your influence in my life! I think I finally caught it!