There were sermons to prepare. Crises to solve. Needy people to counsel. Board meetings to attend.
God had called. He had answered. The calling came first. Family came second. Or third. Sometimes last.
I would sit outside his office door. I would wait until my father had a moment to spare. I knew I was supposed to be quiet - never interrupt, never disturb. He wasn't just doing ordinary work. He was doing God's work.
I tried to think of important things to say - things that would impress him or make him happy with me. "I talked to someone at school about God today Daddy! I memorized John 3:16! Does that make you happy Daddy?"
One day I went to his study door and no one was there. The bookshelves were perfectly organized. The desk was tidy with his favorite silver pen poised on top of a stack of papers he had been writing on. I slowly reached out to touch his pen. I wanted to pretend to be part of his sacred calling too.
I took the pen and a sheet of his blank paper and crouched beneath the desk, writing something I just knew would be beautiful for my Daddy. When I was done I neatly folded up the paper and planned a way to surprise him with my cleverness.
I left the pen underneath his desk.
"WHERE IS MY PEN? YOU KNOW YOU ARE NOT TO TOUCH MY THINGS! NO ONE GAVE YOU PERMISSION TO BE IN MY STUDY!"
Sickness rolled in my stomach. Apologies rolled from my mouth. The regrets were accepted but all I wanted to do was run away and hide. I was ashamed.
All my life I have tried to please my Daddy. And all my life I have failed.
I never did give him the words I wrote that day. All these years later I can't remember what they were. Probably nothing important. These words, like so many sermons, have long since faded away.
All my life I've tried to please God.
All my life I failed. Until one day words started pouring out of my fingers onto a computer screen. And one day words poured out of my mouth in prayers of honest anguish. And one day syllables of sincere praise came bubbling out of my soul.
And God listened.
And God said, "This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased. . ."