The past few devotional that have been appearing on Fridays have looked at some heroes of WWII. As I thought about these heroes, I began to realize that I had a “hero” in my own family, and that the world could perhaps learn a few lessons from my hero, my dad….
My dad was a prankster. He was Belgian, through and through, and in general, Belgians are known for their love of practical jokes. My dad, however, took this to the next level… And sometimes I will admit that I am a bit ashamed of his antics!
Take this incident, for example. He was in elementary school when this happened. While sitting in class, he decided to break apart a pen. Naturally, ink began to spill out of the pen, but instead of wiping this on his clothing or on his desk, my dad decided to have some fun with it. Using his thumb and middle finger, he flicked the pen in the direction of the front of the classroom. To his delight, the ink sailed through the air and splattered right in the middle of the chalkboard! And the fact that the teacher was standing right there, writing on the board, with his back to the class was a bonus. How proud my dad was that some of the ink spattered on the back of the teacher’s head, some on his neck, and some even on his shirt. And when the teacher turned his head to locate the source of the ink, just as another spray was flicked through the air, resulting in ink on his cheek, my dad’s laughter couldn’t be contained.
You can imagine that the teacher was not happy…He also knew his students well enough to be certain of the source of the ink, even if my dad hadn’t laughed out loud…
It is interesting that my dad’s punishment was always left out of the story, and to this day, I have no idea how his antics were addressed. I can tell you this, however: Whatever discipline he received, it didn’t deter him from doing other similar acts! But more on those in a different devotional…
Naturally, at the time this incident happened, I wasn’t born yet; but he was very proud of his antics as a kid, and he told me and my brother all about this particular one on more than one occasion. As a kid, I thought it was funny. In fact, I was pretty proud of my dad. You see, the thought of playing pranks like that at school had crossed my mind many times, but unlike him, I was hampered by worry that if I hurt someone with my antics, they wouldn’t like me anymore. However, I admired my dad for his courage to do what his mind suggested he do.
My brother also listened to these stories. He was also impressed by my father’s antics, and lacking my innate shyness, he gladly followed in my dad’s footsteps. One time he cut off the pigtails of the girl sitting in front of him, and when my parents were called in, they scolded the teacher for letting their son have scissors…
I know that I started off this story saying that my dad was my hero, and I’m sure you are scratching your heads wondering what I saw in a man who would willfully flick ink all over his teacher and then, years later, brag about it to his own children.
Let me set the record straight: I do not condone my father’s actions. In fact, they were totally rooted in self-advancement without any thought of the harm he might have caused. What I admire is his boldness to do what his mind impressed him to do. To this day, I am hampered by shyness, by my worry over what people will think of me; and I often think about how much better of a witness I might be if I had a bit more of my dad’s boldness.
Let me put this a little plainer. So often God puts it on my heart to do something — to speak up, to pray for someone, to provide a helping hand — but because I tend to be afraid of what people will think of me, I don’t do what I’m feeling impressed to do. You can imagine how this stands in the way of witnessing! But sometimes… Sometimes I remember my dad and how he flung that ink at his teacher… And sometimes I feel that rise of courage in me, and I go ahead and do what the Lord pushes me to do. And each time I am so blessed, to say nothing of how blessed others are when I do!
We are constantly getting these “ideas” that cross our minds. We shouldn’t ignore them. We do need to examine them to ensure that they won’t be hurtful, that they are actually coming from the Lord; but once they “pass” this little, all-important screening that my dad didn’t do, then we need to take action. We need to do what God puts on our hearts, AND we need to do it with all our might: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl. 9:10 NIV).
My dad followed this advice his entire life. Although he never completely outgrew his love of pranks, he did eventually stop himself from the ones that would hurt others. We need to follow his example. We need to examine what our “hands finds to do” to ensure that it is of God and won’t hurt anyone, and then we need to do it — with all our might!
In His love,
Director, Answer2prayer Ministries
(To access the entire “My Crazy Hero” devotional series, please click here.)