Children's children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father. ~ Proverbs 17:6
I had a wonderful father. Not a day goes by that I do not think of his broad, warm smile or wish I could hear his chuckle and see the twinkle in his eyes once again. He was a rare man and one who daily pointed me to my Heavenly Father in a real and beautiful way. Thank you, God, for such a father.
The picture that sits on my desk...
Jeff Ethell was both an ordinary and an extraordinary man. He lived a simple, humble life, never seeking to draw attention to himself or to his accomplishments, but pouring himself out for others. At the same time, his life was one great adventure as he visited foreign countries (most often with his family in tow), flew airplanes from the Curtiss Jenny to the Mig 29, and wrote books honoring the veterans who fought and died to protect loved ones and friends. Dad never tired of listening to veterans relate their stories, and his love for his forefathers was evident in all that he did. All of my life, my father impressed me with the importance of knowing history and our place in it by studying those who have gone before us. As a family, we read biographies, visited countless historical sites, and talked about the key to learning from the past: honoring our parents (and their parents, and theirs, and theirs...).
Dad getting ready to take off in a WWII airplane.
Though my father died when he was only 49 years old, he left a legacy that touches grandchildren he has never seen. His character and his love for Christ will, I pray, impact generations far into the future. Talking about "Granddaddy Jeff" is an important part of the Chancey household routine. Because Dad made several videos for the Wide World of Flying, the Discovery Channel, and the Roaring Glory series, his grandchildren can see him climb into the cockpits of vintage aircraft and describe the experience of flying them, paying tribute to the men who flew them. They also hear him relate how much he looked up to his own father (a WWII ace) and express his excitement when he finally had the opportunity to fly in his father's favorite plane, the P-38 "Lightning." Dad honored his father, and one of the happiest days of his life was the day that his dad came to know the Lord. My children know that Christ was the Lord of their grandfather's life, because his testimony lives on. This is a priceless inheritance.
Growing up, I knew that my father loved his family more than he did his "work," because we were all a part of something bigger. Dad made us a part of all he did. My mother set the example by enthusiastically supporting and helping my father in all of his pursuits--whether that meant packing us all off to Africa for a month or climbing into the passenger seat of an airplane to head to a summer air show with Dad. Because of Mom's unbridled enthusiasm and sense of adventure, all of us loved to help Dad in any way we could. Our family was a team from day one.
Dad smiles at me when I was three days old.
My father was not a perfect man. No earthly father is. He had his faults just like the rest of us. But Dad was quick to confess his faults and ask forgiveness for any wrongs he had done. He did not hold grudges and often forfeited credit so that others might shine. In this, he set an example of humility and submission to authority that deeply impacted all of his children. As a teenager, I struggled with perfectionism and pride--always wanting to be the best at everything or to outshine others in what I did. I do not know how many times my father had to sit me down to hold up a mirror to my pride and show me just how ugly and how fruitless it was. He reminded me that God always "resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (I Pet. 5:5). There were many tear-filled talks when I ran into my own shortcomings and had to humble myself to seek forgiveness. I am so thankful for a patient, loving father who showed me the meaning of humility by the life he lived.
One of the greatest things my father ever did for me was to affirm and bless my femininity. Dad never ridiculed me when I wanted to dress up, play with dolls, "cook" pretend food for him, or serve around the home with my mother. On the contrary, he made biblical womanhood exciting and rewarding as he praised my mother constantly in my hearing and never failed to credit her when he succeeded. From my earliest years, I remember my father and my mother being teammates who loved their God-given roles. My father demonstrated the Christ-like service that the Groom gives to the Bride, and he made womanhood precious and special to me when he did so. When I started baking bread and taking over some of the "meatier" tasks of homemaking, my father encouraged me and urged me to do everything excellently "as unto the Lord." Because he approached his work in the same way, I learned to see that every task--no matter how humble--had dignity and was worthy of doing well.
For four years, I helped my father by typing, transcribing veteran interviews, organizing, and selecting stories to go into his books. What a special time that was! Helping Dad with his work prepared me to help my future husband and take delight in his work. I loved every moment of working with Dad and am so glad I have those memories. Dad encouraged my own writing and cheered loudest when my first magazine piece was published (a 250-word book review!). Because my father loved to see others succeed, he never hesitated to encourage a skill he saw blossoming and unfailingly pointed others toward serving Christ with their gifts.
My father prepared me for marriage and encouraged me to pray for my future husband. He was deeply grieved when I foolishly embraced feminism and rejected my God-given role after four years in college. As I marched forward on the "power woman" path, my father prayed for me to see the folly of it all and turn around. Thankfully, the Lord did grab hold of me, showing me (once again) the dead end of pride and self-aggrandizement. By the time my future husband came along, I had rejected the lie of feminism and was content to wait for the Lord's best. God gave me more than I could have asked for in a husband whose character is so like my wonderful father's: adventurous, outgoing, humble, kind, long suffering, and generous. Our wedding day was truly a day of feasting and rejoicing as my father wholeheartedly handed me over to the man he knew would constantly affirm my God-given role, as I rejoiced to walk alongside him and help him.
My favorite picture from my wedding.
A godly father truly is the glory of his children. He urges them on to holiness by living the example of Christian manhood before them. He shows them how the Groom sacrifices for the Bride, protecting and keeping her by His side. His words build up his children and show them that embracing God's Word is pure joy--even when the world says it is "folly." In this way, imperfect and sinful men, saved by grace and sanctified daily, can impart a vision of victory and sacrifice to their children. The key lesson of my father's life was a simple one: It's not all about me. My father often quoted John 3:30, which says, "He [Christ] must increase, but I must decrease." When we just lay down our lives and stop acting like everything centers around ourselves, we find true happiness and peace. May God help me to pass this vision down to my own children!
I know everyone does not have a father like mine. I know there are terrible fathers, violent fathers, absent fathers. But I know that there is a Heavenly Father who promises to shelter those who do not have an earthly father to guide and protect them. Psalm 27:10 says, "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me." Psalm 68 promises, "A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation." This is not just trite pabulum--this is doctrine that has teeth.
Why do you think one of the key facets of Marxism is to separate children from their parents (particularly their fathers) and hand them over to the state? Why is our culture fast turning into a welfare state that encourages fatherlessness and rewards unwed motherhood? Removing fathers and encouraging irresponsibility fosters dependency upon the Almighty State. If you would make slaves of a people, take away their providers and their protectors, and teach them to look to the State for their sustenance. If you would make slaves out of women, teach them to think they are "free" when they are rid of men and can depend wholly upon the State. If you wish to overthrow a people's moral will, simply teach them to cry, "Give, give" with the leech's daughters of Proverbs 30:15. We now live in a society that cries out for stability and meaning, turning toward entertainment, momentary thrills, "pop" culture trends, "hook-ups," and statist solutions. We have lost our fathers, and these props are poor substitutes. Without the moorings of our historical fathers and the guidance of our present-day fathers, we flounder in a morass of self-centered materialism without a vision for the future or for our own children.
There is a Heavenly Father who does not change (I Sam. 15:29, Malachi 3:6). Only in Him can we find stability, for He is not subject to the changing whims of culture. His Standard endures, giving us a foundation upon which we can build family, culture, government, and nations. Without that Standard, we are adrift, for every man is left to decide for himself what is right or wrong. America is full of the fatherless, and, tragically, the Church at large is not answering the call to provide for widows and orphans and live the gospel in a real, tangible way. We are perpetuating fatherlessness rather than being the hands and feet of Christ. May God help us to honor our fathers by obeying our Heavenly Father in all that we do.
I am so grateful to have had the father God gave me and to be the wife of a man who loves the Lord and serves Him with the same spirit of adventurous joy. There are many women who never had such a father, but this does not make them orphans, for they can call upon their Heavenly Father to support and shelter them. My father left a legacy for his children and his children's children--to serve the Lord wholeheartedly and without fear. May God raise up hundreds of thousands of such men at a time when families, churches, and nations need them the most.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. ~ James 1:17