Everyone has their best day of the year. For me it is Christmas which is the day this newsletter comes out – Sunday 25th December 2016. The reason that this is the best day for me is simple. Christmas Day is a time when family collides with Christ in the best possible way. Family and faith – it doesn’t get any better for me!
The Christmas Story is all about true love between a man and a woman. Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death under Jewish law for her unfaithfulness to him but decided to put her way “quietly”. He loved his wife more than his own reputation. Certainly a very noble man. I wish I could say the same, but I am working on it.
This is how Matthew tells the story. You have three other Gospel accounts to choose from and they all collaborate. “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”
My wife feels that the best day of the year is our wedding anniversary (read All You Need is Love). For others, it could be a birthday or a notable celebration. For some it could be the kind and gracious words of a loving father. This blog post by Eric Skwarczynski The Most Encouraging Thing My Dad Ever Said to Me tells such a story.
It’s strange how our minds grasp onto certain moments and memories so strongly. Over what’s been a very difficult past few months, one specific memory involving my dad has played in my mind time-and-time-again. It’s funny because it wasn’t necessarily a “wow” type of event – frankly, it was such a brief and seemingly uneventful moment that I doubt that he even remembers it – but it impacted me in a big way.
My dad has often joked with me that my best (and worst) attribute has always been that I question everything.
Why do we do this?
Why don’t they do that?
How come this is wrong?
Why do we believe this way?
On the one hand, I think he appreciated and respected that I didn’t blindly accept everything in life without an explanation. On the other, I think I am responsible for quite a bit of hair loss.
When I graduated high school, I went through the process that every “new adult” has to go through. I felt the necessity of testing what I’d been taught my entire life in the church, school, and in the home. As I studied and grew personally, I began examining my belief systems with a healthy scrutiny. I tapped away on the foundational pillars my life was built on thus far to see what stood and what crumbled.
To the credit of my amazing family, I discovered that many of the fundamental beliefs I had been raised with were pretty sturdy. They passed the tests of Scripture, study, and additional counsel. And, naturally, there were also some areas where I landed in a different position than that of my parents.
My parents and I have always had a pretty open dialogue with one another, and there are few topics we have not talked through at one point or another. However, even when a strong disagreement is present, we are generally able to prioritize the relationship with one another and communicate graciously.
I say all this to provide context for the most encouraging thing my Dad ever said to me.
I recall sitting across the table from my dad and mum at a Chili’s almost two years ago now. I had brought up to them that I had come to a completely different understanding of a secondary theological issue than they had, and was explaining what I believed.
They sat there for what must have been at least twenty minutes listening to me ramble on.
Throughout the conversation, my dad made it clear that he disagreed with certain things I said, all while maintaining a kind spirit.
After I finished my discourse, which looking back, was far-too-lengthy for a casual family dinner at Chili’s, my dad said something pretty cool.
He looked me in the eyes and said, “Well, you know that I disagree with you completely on this topic, but I can tell you’ve been studying. You understand why you believe this and I’m proud of you for that.”
I can honestly say that few things have ever made me feel more loved and encouraged than that simple statement. With two sentences, my dad taught me an invaluable amount.
He taught me patience (by taking the time to listen to me), he taught me how to disagree and critique graciously, and the importance of affirming the good; he taught me how to prioritize the lifelong relationship rather than throwing it out to win the immediate disagreement, and ultimately, through these things, he taught me much of what it means to be a good dad.
I can’t count the times I’ve told my wife that story. In times of discouragement, fear, or the struggle to decide what to do, I’ve reflected on the love and incredible support I felt in that conversation. My dad’s simple words of encouragement that night have followed me around California, to Virginia, and even all-the-way to India.
That’s the power of a good dad.
Have a great Christmas new year time with your family. Set out to make each day you are alive on the planet one of the best days in someone else’s life just like Eric’s dad did. Just make sure you start with your own children.
Yours for making every day the Best Day of the Year
PS: Thank you to all those who have supported Dads4Kids in 2016. Your help is appreciated.
- Let’s think about those less fortunate this Christmas and do what you can to include them in your family’s circle of love.
2. Let’s also remember to pray for Lyle Shelton and the team at the Australian Christian Lobby who had their offices in Canberra car bombed on Wednesday night. Let’s pray that the people behind this act of hate are brought to justice.
3. We encourage you to think about starting the New Year with a prayer on New Year’s Day, Sunday 1st January. Celebrate the Sunrise Prayer Relay by saying the Lord’s Prayer at a landmark or lookout with a group of likeminded people at sunrise on New Year’s Day. Check this Promo video featuring yours truly and Pat Steele, a young father of two. For more info check out the New Year’s Sunrise Prayer Relay website.