Father/daughter outings have always thrilled me, especially going out for breakfast. My dad was known for his breakfasts -- "Pancake Pop" some called him, but that's another story perhaps I'll tell sometime.
"So how'd the trip go?" Dad asked that day between mouthfuls of blueberry waffle. He was too casual: the way one eyebrow lifted alerted me he'd heard already.
"How much do you know?" I asked.
"Enough to ask."
"Okay." I paused to swallow some ham, then sipped coffee for extra courage. My son, Ted, had returned from a week-long sightseeing tour to Washington, D.C. with a group of eighth grade junior high students. Ted had worked so hard raising money -- coming from California, it was a big trip. We were too broke to help much, but my mom and dad chipped in, making them part of this, too. "I assume you're asking about the hotel room."
"It's pretty simple. Ted was in the room with three boys, and they turned the TV on, flipping through channels. They hit a porn program that wasn't blacked out. Not completely. Pictures flickered in and out, deliberately I think to entice. It was 'pay per view' stuff."
Dad's jaw tensed as he hacked at his waffle. "What did Ted do about it?"
"He tried, Dad -- he took a stand. He knew it was wrong."
"But what did he do?"
I swallowed hard, the ham sticking in my throat. My dad had taught all his descendants, including Ted, that little ditty: "Be careful little eyes what you see," followed by Philippians 4:8 "whatever is right, whatever is pure. . . think about such things" (NIV). I looked him squarely in the eye. "Ted turned it off."
"Good. Then what?"
I could see this wasn't going to be easy. Dad was working like a surgeon probing deeply for the bullet. "The others shoved him aside and turned it back on."
"Things got ugly, Dad. One of the boys went to the next room and invited the others to come watch. By the time it ended, Ted had a black eye and was sitting in the lobby while the rest were in his room lapping it up."
"Where was their teacher?"
"Good question, but I can't answer it. What's happening NOW is what counts."
"You remember how many friends Ted had before he got saved? And how few he had afterward?"
"What's that got to do with this?" Dad asked.
"Well. . . it's a good thing he's had lots of practice standing alone." I couldn't help it, my vision blurred with tears. "Now they're all teasing him, saying nasty things about him. It's spread all through the school."
Dad sighed, pushing his empty plate away. He sipped more coffee, choosing his words carefully. "Obedience costs. Think of Joseph in prison; Daniel thrown to the lions and his friends to the fiery furnace, simply because they obeyed God. Remember what Peter said when the rulers commanded him to keep silent about Jesus? 'We must obey God rather than men' (Acts 5:29 NIV)."
"He remembered that, Dad. He stood firm."
"I'm proud of him, Teresa. If he's developed the strength of character to obey God in spite of ridicule, success will follow: God's way, God's time. As long as he doesn't give up. You'll see."
The memories of that day at breakfast flooded my mind as my husband and I watched through the airport window. Ted's plane taxied, then took off. Back to Washington again, this time as an intern for our congressman. I wished Dad were here to see it. Ted had persevered, developing quite a reputation. He wrote for his high school paper, serving a full plate of God's wisdom in his editorial column, "Soul Food". He laid the issues on the table then picked up the tab, whatever the cost.
Dad taught us well: obedience learned through suffering, even when it brought more of the same; building patience to wait for the payoff. A story in progress -- we were living through the middle, the time of struggle. Dad was at the ending with Jesus, still coaching us through the legacy he'd left. His was a hard act to follow, faithful and joyful even through the worst of times. Wholehearted obedience was what he'd taught -- that it would bring joy and endless fellowship with God. Endless fellowship. For such a prize, what a small price we pay. "Thanks, Dad. You were right," I whispered. "See you soon."
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