MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, December 17th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. You might not know the name Les Sillars, but there’s a good chance you know his work. He’s the long-time Mailbag editor for our sister platform, WORLD Magazine. So if Mailbag is on your reading list, you have Les Sillars to thank.
He’s a journalism professor at Patrick Henry College and he’s an instructor at the World Journalism Institute—where he influences some of the very people you hear on the program.
And now, we’ve fit him for a new hat to wear: WORLD Radio contributor.
REICHARD: Yeah, Les is going to contribute occasional commentaries, but he’s also working on some features that we’ll be airing in the coming weeks.
So, Les Sillars now with thoughts on what his father taught him about God.
And, before you ask, yep, all those years in Virginia haven’t erased the Canadian accent.
EICHER: Red Deer, Alberta, eh?
LES SILLARS, COMMENTATOR: When I was a boy my father left me alone on our acreage while he and my mom went into town. As he left he said, “Don’t ride around on the garden tractor while we’re gone.”
Had he not said that, it would never have occurred to me. But as the Apostle says, when the commandment came, sin sprang to life. Before the dust of their car had settled, I rushed out to the back shed and fired up the tractor.
I drove to the top of our back lawn and pointed the tractor downslope. The plan was to build up speed and then, just before crashing into the deck, turn hard left. Aided by momentum and gravity, the back wheels would break loose and produce a spray of turf. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
I cranked the throttle, popped the clutch, and roared downhill.
But when I turned the wheel, the tractor tilted right and flung me toward the base of the deck. It clunked once on its side then came to rest upside down before my horrified young eyes.
I was frantic. I was too old to be spanked but this — Siberia seemed like a possibility.
When Dad got home I came up, blubbering something about the tractor, and took him out back. His worried look became one of alarm. “Are you okay?” he asked, eyeing the disaster.
“Yes,” I snuffled.
“Well, that’s good,” he said. “You could have been killed.”
Then he pushed the tractor upright, and said, “That was foolish, but you seem sorry about it, so just don’t do it again.” From then on, I have never doubted that God forgives sinners.
In the ancient near east the word “image” implied physical representation. Just as humans represent God to Creation, fathers represent God to their children. By their character and actions, fathers teach their children who God is.
Many people’s fathers were absent or unpredictable, legalistic or domineering, or worse. They turned the idea of a loving heavenly Father into a cruel parody.
But here’s what I learned about God from my dad:
He would ask me to play catch. He taught me how to shoot a basketball.
He made me wash floors and pull weeds, and frowned at me when I complained. He took me to youth group on Fridays. He was an elder and shed real tears when the church split. He limited our TV time.
When I needed money for something legitimate, he’d say, “My wallet’s on the fridge.” When I hit high school he had his doubts about some of my decisions, but he let me make them.
And when I needed mercy, he forgave me.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Les Sillars.