I have a new yardman. He is blonde, tan, strong and handsome. The other day, as he mowed my lawn, I snapped pictures of him.
Did I mention he is seven years old?
From the time he could walk, Foster has “helped” his daddy mow our lawn. He faithfully pushed his Little Tykes mower behind Mark, trying to follow in his father’s footsteps. For years now, he has dreamt of the day when he could do his daddy’s work. And now, with supervision, he can.
And he does a great job, too! Mark has patiently taken the time to teach him how to start the mower, how to mow in a straight line, and how to overlap the edges so stray pieces of grass aren’t missed. Foster is proud to be doing a man’s work. And Mark is proud to have a son who wants to be like his daddy. As he watched Foster mow our lawn the other day, he smiled and said, “That’s my boy!”
But the Daddy imitation doesn’t stop with the lawn. Foster wants to hunt like his daddy, fish like his daddy. We’ve even caught him preaching sermons like his daddy on more than one occasion. He admires his daddy, and he wants to be just like him. I think that’s probably about the biggest compliment a child can give a parent, don’t you?
It’s natural for a child to want to be like the parent. I can remember longing for the day I could wear lipstick and high-heeled shoes, like my mama. I can remember wanting to touch the sky like my daddy. (Yes, in my mind, he could touch the sky.) I hope I turned out with some of their wonderful qualities.
As much as it brings joy to my heart to see Foster imitating his daddy, it also brings a question.
Am I imitating my Father?
Oh, I say I want to be godly and compassionate and merciful and kind. But all too often, I find I am just the opposite. I find I am ungodly. I gossip. I judge people. I respond harshly, instead of with patience and compassion. Though I want to imitate my heavenly Father, I often fail.
But then, I remember the years when Foster followed Mark with that Little Tykes mower. I remember he often lost interest after a few minutes. Sometimes, he would trip and fall. Though he wanted to imitate his daddy, he didn’t do it perfectly. It took him a while to learn. He’s still learning. And though Foster wasn’t a perfect replica of his daddy, it still brought joy to Mark’s heart, just to know that Foster was trying, just to know that he wanted to be like his dad. Mark has patiently taught him what he needs to know, and now Foster shows great promise as a lawn boy.
I think God must be that way, too. He knows we aren’t perfect. He knows we are going to get distracted and make mistakes and fall down sometimes. But He sees our hearts, and when He sees that we truly want to be like Him, it makes Him smile. He patiently picks us up, sets us back on the right path, and continues to teach us. And somehow, miracle of all miracles, He looks at a heart that longs to imitate Him and He sees promise. He sees potential.
I want to be like my Father. I really do. And I hope that someday, somehow, I will be able to make Him proud as He says, “That’s my girl!”
“And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’” Luke 2:49