God is a Good Father: Proverbs 4:1

“Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.” Proverbs 4:1 (KJV)

November 2023, I had the pleasure of visiting Colorado Springs and Focus on the Family—a name I learned when I attended a Larry Burkett Crown Financial Ministries seminar at a local church. I drove around Colorado Springs enthralled by the number of worship centers, Focus on the Family, the Community Bible Study office, Navigators, and others. Most places closed on Sundays, so I parked at Focus on the Family and spent time with the sculpture pictured below. I walked around the statue, studying the image of the perfect family. I stepped back a few feet, moving left then right for different angles of the father holding his daughter on his shoulders and imagining him teaching her a new skill about fishing and answering her questions.

As I continued my tour of the grounds, walking by warm brick buildings, I thought about Proverbs 4:1 and memories with my father. He was an artist, sheet metal sculptor, and auto body repairman for classic cars. Owners of Rolls-Royces, Jaguars, Mustangs, and Thunderbirds used to request his services. He invited me into his one-car garage on occasion to help tape a car with masking tape but never to learn about the mechanics of an engine.

Born in 1927, my father was a traditional man, and quite honestly, he didn’t do me any favors by not teaching me about changing a tire, oil, or filling a car up with gas.

Years after my father left our family, I drove a 1970 navy blue Volkswagen Bug named Betty. Betty was a 4-cylinder gutless wonder. She’d make it over three continuous rolling hills loaded with carpoolers at 53 mph in the morning.

Back then, I was going to college and working part-time to make ends meet. Sharing gas and car expenses made sense—even if the other drivers held their breath and counted the days until it was their turn to drive. Up and over the hills we rolled. Coming home in the afternoon, Betty climbed at 45 mph—her max in hot temperatures. Often, it was faster to drive ten miles out of the way to save time on flatter terrain.

One day, I got the idea to change my oil, which was another way to save money. I also wanted to become self-sufficient and capable if something happened to Betty. Unfortunately, there were no classes for girls to learn basic car mechanic skills, but that didn’t stop me! I watched my cousin change his oil and figured if he could do it, I could too.

I borrowed his oil filter and open-end box wrench to drain the oil. I provided a pan to shove underneath the engine. Without a creeper, I scooted underneath Betty. It took two hands and singing “lefty-lucy, righty-tighty” to yank the wrench enough times to empty the oil and drop the filter.

I was feeling pretty optimistic at that point. With oil in my hair and across my long-sleeved shirt, I realized I could replace the filter plug and fill Betty with store-bought oil without burning myself.

What I didn’t realize, and would have benefited from a father or Rosie the Riveter telling me, was I should have replaced the filter’s gasket with a new one. When I returned to Betty a few hours later, a trail of oil stretched between my concrete pad and the sidewalk, trickling into the grass like money down the drain.

If my father were alive, I would tell him how much I love him and required his help teaching me basic life skills, like changing the oil.  I eventually learned to change my oil, as well as balance a checkbook and bait a hook, but I would have preferred to be taught by my father.

My Good Father in Heaven teaches me new life skills and lessons each day in his Word. I am grateful for the beautiful sculpture that reminds me how often my Heavenly Father instructs and loves me—lifting me onto His shoulders and teaching me new things. For God’s love and faithfulness, I will be forever grateful.