My father was skilled in all things carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry, and so on. I am unskilled in all such things. One summer visit with my parents Dad asked me if I was willing to replace the landscape timbers around one of their flower beds. He was ninety, on oxygen, his body no longer able to do what he had done all his life. I was grateful to be asked. I was very willing to do this for Dad and Mom.
The finished product would not be as good as Dad’s work. My goal was to do the best I could do. All I wanted to do was to please my father. As small or insignificant as this request might sound to you, for me this was an opportunity to express gratitude to this man who, with love, had given so much of his life for his family.
I purchased all the supplies, took some instruction from Dad, and went to work. Dad sat in the seat of his walker, with his portable oxygen tank. He watched. He supervised. He answered my questions. We visited. Dad was not able to stay in the yard the whole day. I finished after dark. Landscape timbers around a flower bed. Not much. Work to which I gave myself to thank my father for his life, for all he had done for me. With love and gratitude all I wanted to do was please my father and to know his pleasure.
The next day Dad inspected my work. I will never forget his words. “You did a better job than me.” My sixty year old heart felt ten again. Joy filled my heart. The joy of pleasing my father, of bringing him pleasure, of experiencing his pleasure. Five months later my father died. This day became all the more significant to me. The previous day’s work, this day’s words of praise from my father, were a memorable experience of intimacy with my father. This was a memorable experience of doing something worthy, not in the sense of deserving praise. Rather doing something worthy of honoring Dad. It was the expression of my gratitude to him for all that he had given me in my life. This was an experience of the joy of pleasing my father by doing something worthy of his love, worthy of him.
Looking back on that summer day I am reminded that as a child of God the goal of my life is to please my heavenly Father in the things that I do. Every day provides the opportunity to please God by bearing the fruit of what is good, right, and true. Living in order to please God I seek to live a life worthy, a life honoring God, expressing gratitude for all that he has given and continues to give so freely to me. What joy to know I am pleasing God, bringing pleasure to his heart, and experiencing his pleasure, knowing intimacy with the Father.
On that day when the Father inspects my work, my hope in Jesus Christ is that I will kneel before him and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). To know the Father’s pleasure!