|Dad and me.|
I love my dad. He is a wonderful, supportive dad and I am blessed to have him. I miss him when we are apart, and I look forward to the times we are together. I admire him and his dedication to what he feels is important. He loves history and he is an author, and he has a passion for preserving history in written form and passing it, and his love for it, on to others.
Over the last 2–3 years he and I have spent countless hours on my days off working on his latest book (a revision of a book he wrote years ago on the Monterey/Cannery Row sardine industry that caused the waterfront to become famous through it and the writings of men like John Steinbeck). I probably need to back up and say that, before I started pastoring full time, Mary Ann and I used to do computer typesetting—taking author’s manuscripts and art and turning them into print-ready format.
This book is my father’s book. It is his vision, his desire, his goal. It is not mine. I have other things on my heart to do. I did not wake up those days saying that I wanted to work 6–10 hours in front of the computer on a book about Cannery Row. It is not that the book, or Cannery Row, is bad in any way. It is just not my desire or priority.
But, what is a greater truth is that I love my dad, and this is a gift I can give him—and that is, at that moment, my greatest desire and priority—my desire to love my dad is a greater desire than to do my own thing. I can be his hands, positioning words and pictures exactly where he wants them, moving and adjusting them at his word, giving him a level of control he couldn’t get otherwise. I can sit with him and keep working and changing until my father says, “I like it!”
I did this, and I did it gladly, because I love my dad. When this book is finally on the shelves of bookstores (sometimes we wondered if it ever would get there!), it will be a total reflection of my dad. When people look at the book they will see him, because it will be the expression of his desire. He often made choices of typefaces and positioning I wouldn’t have made, but it wasn’t my book. Had I pushed my desires the book would have reflected me and not him. It’s not my book, it’s his, and as such it should reflect him. I would only get in the way and cloud that reflection by pushing my desires and preferences on him.
What did it take? It took surrender. A surrender birthed in love. I woke up those mornings and gladly surrendered my plans and desires to my father’s heart, for my father’s work. I did it gladly because I love him, and it is my great pleasure and joy to give him that gift. In the end, no one will stop me on the street and say, “You are the one who typeset that book!” And, they shouldn’t. I was just the hands to bring my father’s vision and work to completion, in exactly the way my father wanted it. But, in the end, people do stop my dad on the street and say, “I love your books! I have them all!” and they say, “Your books changed my child. History is now their favorite subject.” And that’s the way it should be. I am just his hands—he is the one with the vision, and when I do the typesetting I am simply doing my father’s work . . . or, rather, he is doing it through me—he is moving a word, or changing a picture, using my hands to do it. It is his, and that is how it should be.
The parallel to the Christian life should be obvious. If I want to say that I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me, it requires surrender. It requires me setting aside my plans and my desires and, in love and honor for my Father in heaven, surrendering to His work and His plans. And then, as I let my light shine before men that they may see my good works, they glorify the Father in heaven. As it should be. He deserves it. If I do it my way, then they see me. If He does it through me, then they see Him. I am merely His hands and feet, letting Him work through me to bring to pass His desires and vision. He alone deserves the glory and praise . . . and because I love Him, that should bring me the greatest joy and be my greatest pleasure. Surrender is, truly, a beautiful word.