I was raised by a gentle, strong, resilient minister who welcomed everyone into our home. If you asked my daddy what made him happy outside of being the father of Adrian, Brendon and me, he would tell you that he got joy out of being a pastor, a prison chaplain and a missionary to several rural areas in Africa. I shared him with the world, yet I always knew that I was the apple of his eye.
One of the most beautiful memories I have as a little girl is of free falling into Daddy's arms. Daddy knew I recklessly enjoyed plunging into his arms. I would try to surprise him each time by climbing onto the highest point of elevation I could find, closing my eyes and free falling into his arms. It didn't matter if Daddy was on the other side of the room. When I yelled out "Daaaadddyyyy," he would move to me and catch me falling from the kitchen table, or from the hood of his car or even from the roof of the house. I closed my eyes, and, always just in time, I felt his strong, gentle arms catch me.
When I was 17 years old, I left the only world I had ever known in South Africa to come to America and face the unknown. I had never been on an airplane before. With $200 in my pocket, my faith and complete trust that if I fell, Daddy would be there, I launched into the unknown.
It wasn't until I looked through the window of the Boeing 747 I was flying on that I realized it would be years until I saw my daddy again. Still, I knew, Daddy would always be there for me. I knew that whenever I needed him, the man that drove through wind, fire and water to care for others would be there for me, his only baby girl. And he was.
This Father's Day will be my first reality of free falling without Daddy in the world to catch me. But after more than 40 years of free falling into his arms, I realize how strong he has made me.
Just like my daddy, each of us is daily called to be caretakers of others. The residents in our communities might include the colonel who commanded an army, raised his family and now depends on you to catch him when he falls. Or the mother who raised her children but now forgets their names and depends on you to catch her free falling into your arms. Or the older gentleman who lost the love of his life and doesn't have any children. Instead, he sits alone, looking forward to your smile and hug each morning. When he sees you, he free falls into your arms.
And with your call to love without condition, you are creating your own legacy. With each "free fall," you are strengthening the love of another. Material wealth is temporary, but the love of a good father is eternal. May you feel His love and be His love as others "free fall" into your life.