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NOVEMBER 2004
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Men Same Path, Different Directions
By Gary Sims

Fathers …

There will come a time in your daughter’s life when you will not be needed. No matter how close of a relationship you have developed over the years, the day will come when it will suddenly dawn on you that your job is done.

For me this realization took place on the campus lawn of my daughter’s new college. It was moving-in day and I had just hefted 50 pounds of junk across two long blocks and up three flights of stairs to my daughter’s dorm room. It was the last of the stuff that had been deemed worthy enough for the 1,700 mile cross-country drive. As I set the box down, my daughter’s loving voice broke through the din being made by all the other parents and kids on the floor.

"That’s the last box, Dad. When are you leaving?"

Leave? I had just driven 1,700 miles. Why would I be leaving already? Wasn’t I going to get a chance to play "college" with my daughter? Couldn’t I spend time reminiscing and telling stories and anecdotes to a gathering crowd of young college freshmen who were eager to hear what college was like twenty-five years ago? Wouldn’t I be invited to throw a Frisbee or hang out in the student union?

I stood in shock and looked down at the last box wondering if there was anything I could do to delay the inevitable. Luckily my wife came to the rescue. "We are going to go on the campus tour for parents in a little while," she said. "Maybe a little later we can meet with you for dinner?"

With that she escorted me out of the dorm and onto the lawn – a safe distance from any embarrassing opportunities. Now I stand, looking around at all the activity in the courtyard and begin wrestling with the realization that my job was done. Everything I had to offer in the raising of my daughter was completed. The problem? I didn’t feel I had actually started. I was just getting the hang of this 'having kids' thing. One day I am standing in the delivery room with a little wrinkled and fragile baby in a blanket and the next I am standing, empty handed watching life pass me by. I had so much more to say…

My wife and I were both very quiet for most of the drive home. The college had "put up with" the parents for nearly two days, but it had become increasingly obvious that everyone wanted us to be on our way. As I tried to put her life into perspective, a life that I had helped coax into womanhood, my heart remembered Paul's letter to the Philippians. In this letter he says, "I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me." (Philippians 3:12 New Century Version)

I know that my daughter is not fully grown and I know there will be more times when I will be needed – even if only to carry another box. But, as I stare down the highway, putting distance between me and her new life, I am strengthened by the thought that I too, can still strive to become who God has meant me to be. We are a lot alike my daughter and I. We are both reaching because Christ wants us to.
Gary Sims is a husband and father of two teens. He is a Lay Worship Leader and Teacher at First United Methodist Church, Albuquerque. Gary writes a daily devotional, which can be found at http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=2297
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