My friend, may I ask you a question? Has God has called each of us to conform to the image of Jesus Christ? Like our fathers, is this is an image of joy mixed with pain? Is there is no escaping it? To be “counted worthy of that calling” ought we to walk in our dad’s footsteps and grow up to be just like him?

Life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I'm Mark Brunner.

Here’s a story about my dad: To me he was always larger than life. He towered over me and just had a way of peering down at me that could either rivet me to the spot in guilt or immediately cause me to reach out in search of his love. He had a smell about him that was uniquely him; that faint odor of aftershave no matter what the time of day. This, mixed with the ever-present tinge of Chesterfield aroma, was always a sure sign that he had passed this way. I knew that he was around and that my world was protected and safe.

Over the course of years I came to know the man in whose footsteps I would some day walk and in whose image I was trying to know and conform to. I wanted to be like my dad when I grew up. I wanted to smell like him and sing like him. I wanted to drive a car like him and go to work like him. Watching my dad gave me purpose as I grew from boyhood into adolescence. As I grew older I began to observe his life as well as his presence. I saw his times of joy as well as his times of pain. When he lost his job I was only a little boy but I remember his grief followed by a stern commitment to make everything better for all of us. I saw his anger as well as his gentleness. When I left home at eighteen I was confi- dent that I was on the way to becoming my “own man.” I didn’t find out until later that I was simply flexing my wings in preparation for a flight that would bear a great similarity to the way my father had always soared above me.

After many years now, I can look back and see the great lesson my dad taught me–that a man’s presence is a mixture of joy and pain. This is what makes him a man. This is what gives him purpose and value. Happiness is having a purpose in life that is founded on what a man builds from his misfortunes as well as his successes. The pain is as good as the joy. In fact, we can’t really know joy without the pain.