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FIRST-PERSON: A father’s nurture


JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–In 1910, Mrs. John Bruce Dodd, a resident of Spokane, Wash., convinced the city to issue the first Father’s Day proclamation.

She suggested those with fathers living wear a red rose, those with fathers deceased, a white rose. Attending church together was a family priority. In 1922 President Calvin Coolidge asked that Father’s Day be observed in the United States.

However, it didn’t become a holiday until 1972. Worshiping together and presenting dad with a small gift has become a family ritual. Today, this special date is recognized by more than 20 countries around the world. On the third Sunday in June, Southern Baptists pay tribute to our fathers through special services and music.

Growing up in a Christian home, my father, Earl Ross, taught by example more than using words. His work was manual labor, consisting of painting barns and houses. After a hard day’s work he still had time to listen to my childish chatter. Like other families of that era, we sat on the porch after dinner on summer evenings, talking until bedtime. I might ask about the stars and constellations, night sounds from insects or nocturnal animals, or why moths hover around porch lights. And my father, in his wisdom, always had the answers.

I recall a special memory of walking with my father down the road to the community general store. A family with two large vicious dogs lived between our home and the store. I was terrified of their barking and snapping as we walked by. All I could see was those big teeth nipping at my ankles. My father always walked on the side next to the traffic until we reached this dwelling.

Then as we approached the dogs, he took my hand in his and put himself between me and the dogs. Nothing was ever said. But I knew from past experience that my father was between me and danger. He was my comforter, my protector. And how I loved him.


The story is told of a young child who asked her father for enough money to purchase candy. Reaching in his pocket, he brought out a handful of coins and held them in fingers scarred by hard labor. Then he said, “Take what you need.” He did not say, “Take what you want” but “what you need.” With those few words, the child realized the value of her dad’s work.

As we honor our earthly fathers, it is a time also to praise our heavenly Father. When our heavenly Father opens His hands, He offers us more blessings than we can possibly imagine.

Philippians 4:10 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (NIV).

Use this day to honor your earthly father and your heavenly Father. Thank God for sending His Son into the world.
Carolyn Ross Tomlin lives in Jackson, Tenn. She is the author of “What I Wish It Hadn’t Taken Me So Long to Learn,” available at www.1stbooks.com.