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Summary: The waiting father reaches deep into the reservoirs of love, extending compassion to his wayward son. So we also as parents must seek not to control but to guide and then be ready for forgiveness.

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I shall not soon forget the image he presented, this father of the bride. He had smiled all through the vast and elaborate preparations for the wedding; his daughter was a kind of elegant princess, he knew it, she knew it, everybody knew it – and so the princess must have a grand occasion. Too many invitations were sent out for the wedding service to be accommodated in the little church where I was interim pastor, so we moved to the much larger Baptist church down the road a few miles. Too many people were coming for mere family or even a small catering business to take charge of the reception. It had to be held at a hotel dining room, where it in fact took over for the evening the entire dining facilities of the establishment; they closed their restaurant to the public and made it exclusively available to this bride. And daddy smiled through all of the planning, all of the fussing about which color scheme to use and what menu to serve.

But when we all arrived at the reception banquet we were all greeted by father, still smiling to be sure, but with the pickets of his jacket and the pockets of tuxedo trousers emptied, pulled out to their full extent ••• empty. Empty as a wino's bottle, empty as a politician's rhetoric, empty as my head on Monday morning ••• and he stood there and grinned like an ape and greeted several hundred guests, having reached into the pockets until they were now utterly, totally empty.

But you see, it is the task of fathers to do that. Fathers are generally the folks who are called on to reach into the pockets and to provide. Most of us grumble a little about it and do not make quite as much a display as my friend did because we do understand, however reluctantly, that that's a part of what being a father is all about. We reach into the pockets, we pay the bills, we provide.

Oh how the Lord does prepare me spiritually for my sermons! I planned this topic some while ago, but spent most of the week, as you know, trying to represent you at the Southern Baptist Convention, and so I left off completely preparing the message until I got home. Well, thank you, Lord, for the bill for twenty-seven hundred and forty-three dollars for room and board and tuition for my son's next semester. Honestly, that university is so efficient they get the bills for next semester out almost before they get out the grades for this semester. So believe me when I tell you that I know whereof I speak … a father's role is to reach into the pockets (or in my case, into the bank's pockets for a loan) and to provide.

And not only to provide, but to smile while doing it. Ouch. But you know what? That’s the way it’s meant to be. Reaching into the pockets with a smile on your face. That’s the way it’s meant to be, because our Father God is like that. Reaching deep down, emptying ourselves, that’s what we need to do, because that’s what our Father God does for us. And we can learn from Him just how to do it.


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