“SYMBOL: n. something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance.”
Based upon this dictionary definition, our lives are filled with symbols. A symbol could be an object, or even a day.
And since this week marks the celebration of two holidays, both revolving around symbols to an extent, I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of symbols in our lives.
The two holidays we are celebrating this week, Flag Day and Father’s Day, both commemorate people, places and events very near and dear to our hearts.
Flag Day was established to honor the symbol of our national pride and heritage, not only as a patriotic gesture of commitment to our national ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but also as a demonstration of the unity of our nation even while emphasizing the diversity of the states and individuals who live here.
The “Stars and Stripes” is indeed an important national symbol — one which should be honored and celebrated, both nationally and locally.
But Sunday also marks Father’s Day. Now for some that may be an insignificant day, because either your relationship with your father is sour, non-existent, or poor at best, or your memory of him is fading.
But the day was meant to truly honor fathers around the nation for their commitment to their wives and families. Now I know the statistics — that one of every two marriages in America ends in divorce, and the percentage is even higher among those who claim to be Christians.
And I know that there are many children who are brought into this world without the benefit of having a father who loves them and cares for them.
And yet, this day, which was first celebrated in 1909 in Spokane, Washington, before it was made an official national holiday by President Coolidge in 1924, is a day designed to help us never forget those men in our lives who shaped our character, not to mention our “behinds!”
The most pleasant memories I have with my father are on the golf course. He taught me everything I know about the game (which, according to those who have played with me, is not much!).
I remember my Dad standing on the first tee of Fairgreens Golf Club, outside of Jackson, Ohio, and aiming toward the fourth tee. When I asked him why, he would simply say, “Just watch!”
And he would take what seemed to be a mighty swing at the ball, and it would travel out toward the fourth tee, but then would curve (some would say it sliced!) back into the middle of the fairway about 250 yards away. Dad would look at me, and smile a big grin and say, “See, I told you to watch!”
On the golf course, he taught me respect for others (“Don’t talk while other people swing!”) and respect for property (“Always replace your divots, and repair your ball marks on the greens!”). I never saw my father lose his temper on the golf course, a fact that I wish I could say was true for all fathers on the golf course!
To my knowledge, he never threw a club in anger or disgust, even though Dad had plenty of opportunity to do so. In fact, the first time I got angry and threw a club, he made me go after it, even though I had thrown it into the middle of a pond close to one of the greens there.
When I returned, soaking wet and muddy from head to toe, Dad said, “Now, if you don’t throw your club even when you get upset over a shot you made, you won’t ever have to retrieve it!” And I never did.
But the most important thing that my father taught me on the golf course was a respect for and love for God Himself. You see, we never played on Sunday mornings. NEVER!
And when we did play, he would always be showing me the wonders of God’s natural handiwork which is so evident on a golf course, if one takes the time to notice it.
In his own way, my father used our time together on the golf course to remind me of the beautiful power and glory of the God of all creation.
Dad taught me how to live, but he also taught me how to REALLY live! Standing over his casket almost 42 years ago, I was so very pleased when a lady walked up behind me and said, “I loved your Dad!”
I was taken aback because this woman was neither my mother nor either of my sisters. She was someone whom I had never seen before. She revealed to me that she had worked for my father, and had been called into his office after she had been terminated by her supervisor.
And she said simply, “I am a Christian today because your Dad told me about the love of Jesus for me, and I will always love him for that!”
My Dad did not rescind her termination, but he gave her a reason to live, and a living hope for her future.
Symbols are great memory joggers, aren’t they? Flag Day celebrates the flag which is the symbol for our freedom, and the sacrifices of those fought and died to gain it and to preserve it. Father’s Day celebrates the men in our lives who have indeed taught us and sacrificed for us so that we could live to enjoy those freedoms as well.
As we celebrate this weekend, won’t you just pause to take the time to reflect upon those times and people that God would have you remember, and then thank Him for them!
God bless America! God bless Dads everywhere!
And God bless…
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.