“Come walk with me, Son,” said my Dad. He placed a few strands of dried field grass in his teeth for a moment. “I have some points I’d like to share with you.”
Dad and I started off side-by-side walking in the right and left wheel tracks down the back country lane. The gravel road was a quiet place, tree shaded, lined with shoulder high grasses and some leafy bushes. Except for the chirps of happy sparrows, it was secluded.
I wondered what he had in mind.
“You’ll be growing up fast, now, and becoming more and more involved with the world.”
I’d rarely seen my Dad’s face so intent.
“You’re a fine young man. But this world has a way of challenging your perspectives… in school, among your friends, wherever you go.”
I felt a growing lump in my throat.
“The most important thing of all is to practice the first great commandment. Do you remember what that is?”
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength,” I answered proudly, remembering one of my favorite Sunday school lessons.
“If you do that, God will walk with you and guide you. A lot of people forget that major lesson. You’ll see them fall into all types of trouble in life.
“Next, be an absolutly honest man. This world learns to lie, cheat, and steal. Shakespeare said it well.
“ 'Above all else, to your own self be true. And then it follows as sure as day follows night that you cannot be false to any man.’ Do you understand what this means?”
“Yes, Dad,” I said humbly. “I should be true to myself. Then I will be true to others. Right?”
“Yes, I think truth is like one of those coastal lighthouse you explored on our Maine vacation. It shines a beacon through the darkness when the perfect storms rage against us.
“You’ll learn too soon, people in life will persecute you. I’m sorry to say that,” his face turned sad.
I held my breath.
“Whenever you do right, whenever you stand for truth, others will resent you because of the evil in their own hearts.
“ 'The darkness always hates the light,’ the Bible tells us.”
“Dad, already there are bullies in school who hate me.”
“I'm sorry, Son,” he said.
“Jesus stood silent when he was accused.
“I’d like you to try that first. Don’t defend yourself. Wait for others to defend you. Often, the truth comes out. That’s a good thing.
“Other times, you will have to take it on the jaw. Remember, they beat Jesus. They even killed him because he taught truth.
“Son, I want you to remember respect for women. God made them the most beautiful creatures on earth. But they are very different from the way we are in many ways.”
I sort of agreed.
“Do you have any girl friends?” he asked.
“Naw, they stick to themselves,” I said.
“Just because someone is different doesn’t mean they’re wrong. In fact, you’ll find women are usually right. That’s because God gave them a special grace to guide us men and even to care for us.
“Do you notice how wonderfully your mother takes care of us?”
“Yes, Dad, breakfast, lunch, and dinner!” I smiled.
“Women really reflect the very nature of God to men. In fact, men reflect the nature of God to women. Men have the grace to be the protectors, providers, and partners, even the patriarchs! You’ll find out what all that means as you get a little older.
I wasn't sure.
“Another thing, God places all kinds of people on the earth, all races, creeds, cultures, nations. It’s like he planted a vast garden with a variety of flowers, colors, shapes, to make it a beautiful world.
“It’s important you respect all these differences. It’s like what I saw in military intelligence,” he said. “You have to know what other people believe, what they are doing, and why they are different.
“Do you understand?”
“I’ll try, Dad….”
Life came to prove each and every point my Dad made. I often called upon his talk that day.
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