Hey Dad, can I help?

This is a very old photo. I think it is actually a digital picture of an old film photo my mom took before they invented digital cameras.

The muscular gentleman with the ax is my dad. The slightly less muscular gentleman on the stump is my littlest brother. Or rather, he was my littlest brother at the time. Now he is only the youngest. At nineteen he’s actually the tallest of us five boys nowadays, and a good deal more muscular than he was then.

What can I say, he wanted to help cut wood. He was too little to swing the ax, really, but you’ll note he has his “working man” boots on; and cast your eye, if you will, over the casual competence of his pose, carefully copied from his older brothers who learned it from our father. We wanted to help cut wood too.

I don’t know how many times we got in the way, slowed down the work, messed up the projects, and just plain made a nuisance of ourselves in our eagerness to help Daddy outside. For the first few years we weren’t much earthly use out there. He could have gotten things done ten times faster without us, most of the time, but he let us help out.

I was reminded of this because of a conversation I had. We had been talking about the difference between merely accepting God’s will, since He is going to get His way no matter what we do, and positively embracing it. I said that we should try to go beyond merely doing what He wants because we really have to, and try to be eager about it. We should ask Him, “Hey, can I help? Is there anything I can do? Please.” She said to me, “I’m afraid to want to help God because I’m sure I’ll mess it up.” I’ve felt that many times myself. It was good for me to hear someone else say it, because it’s always easier to see the truth when someone else is missing it than when I am the one missing it.

I don’t think God cares whether we mess up the work in our eagerness to help him, anymore than my father did. Sometimes it might have gotten a little annoying, and the work might have taken a lot longer, but my father didn’t work to get the job done. He worked to raise us. We were the final cause and end of his work, so he could deal with a little chaos and delay from us. It was all about what was best for us, from beginning to end. That’s what fatherhood is all about. He learned it from God. God’s fatherhood is for our sake. The work He does is for our sake, and He is more than capable of doing it without us, but it would be for nothing without us. Just as my father might have gotten the work done faster without us, and it would have been a waste if we had never learned to work ourselves, so with Jesus we must “Be about our Father’s business.” He doesn’t need us to do it. But He wants us.

1 Comment

  1. Wow. Excellent lessons your father taught you. I sometimes lose sight of the big picture and neglect to reflect on how I should strive to mirror the Lord in my task as an earthly father.

    I've been catching up on your posts after being introduced to your site via newadvent. Thanks for being a quiet professional and a manly Catholic witness.

    Like

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