My Father’s Remembrance of His Father

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  • In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, we share as a Devotional this special reflection from Elisabeth…

    “When I was seven Father taught me to fish for bass in a beautiful lake in Maine. He gave me a hand line, and when I hooked a fish I got so excited that I tangled the line as I pulled it in. Finally, I handed it over to Father and he managed, as always, to straighten it out. Often since I have been reminded that, if I will only turn over my problems to my heavenly Father and trust Him fully, He can undo tangles.

    “I remember how, when I was still a small boy and sometimes could not go to sleep at night, Father would sit beside me, stroking my hand, and singing softly, ‘Hide me, O my Savior, hide me.’ Once in camp when I tripped over a root and fell with my hand in the fire, Father sat up almost all night fanning and blowing on the blistered hand until we could get medical help in the morning.

    “When we were Boy Scouts, Father sometimes would go camping with us. In the prime of life he was rugged and strong, and would gladly carry his own pack, sleep on a rough bed, and put up with the cold and poorly cooked food just in order to be with us in our recreation, He could stand more cold than most city men and would seldom wear an overcoat.

    “We had many wonderful summers together at Gale Cottage in Franconia, New Hampshire. Father taught me to fly fish for trout in Profile Lake, just below the Great Stone Face (also known as The Old Man of the Mountain) and often we fished the lakes and streams together. Even here he was unselfish and a real sportsman. He would let me fish the pools first as we waded along the brooks, and always wanted to land his own trout with the net, taking his chances on losing it. While we were camping one night beside a mountain lake, after a downpour, some rough, swearing men came to spend the night at the same spot. Before going to bed, Father, as his custom was, wanted
    to have brief Bible reading and prayer, and, to their surprise and chagrin, he invited these men to join us.

    “Father rarely complained and was never cynical. He did not like to hear us say, ‘It’s too good to be true,’ but said, ‘It’s so good it must be true.’ When I failed in one course in high school, he talked seriously and kindly with me, and encouraged me to do better; with the result that I made a good record in the last two years of high school and at the university. He always told me that if I would prepare myself carefully, I should never lack opportunities for work.

    “Father was debonair, genial, kind, cheerful, and with a keen sense of humor. He was the soul of tact and courtesy and most sympathetic. As I write, his smiling face looks down at me from one of his last photographs. He never ‘took a bad picture,’ and I think it was because his heart was right and his thoughts were on a high plane.

    “Of many passages of Scripture that he gave me, two stand out in my memory. One night, as I was sitting on the edge of his bed, talking of my troubles and temptations, he laid his hand on mine and reminded me of the Lord’s words to Peter: ‘Simon, Simon — Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren’ (Luke 22:31,32).

    “To encourage me in my Christian work, he referred more than once to the words of the Lord Jesus to His disciples: ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit’ (John 15:16).”

    A postscript from Elisabeth: My dear Grandfather, Philip E. Howard (pictured above with surrounded by his family in 1931), became blind in his old age. Whenever I would visit him he would ask me to play hymns on the piano. He would draw up a chair close beside me and lay his gnarled old hands very lightly on mine as I played. Usually I would find him quietly singing and sometimes weeping. He loved us all more than he could find words to express.

    **Excerpt originally published in the Sept/Oct 2000 Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.