When I was young, certainly younger than 12 or 13, I recall a moment where my dad was out and I was all alone in the house. As a rule, we as kids were not allowed to be in my father's room without permission, but as kids are so often prone to ignoring instruction, I took my boredom to his room and peered around. It wasn't so much that I remember looking for anything in particular. I remember feeling through the jackets that hung in the closet, pulling the cap off the can of shaving cream to smell what it was like, walking through the walk-in closet that was big enough to be a room for a small person, rolling around on the bed, which felt like a sea of a thing at the time, and opening up bedside drawers to explore their hidden contents.
Had my dad known any of this, I'm sure I would have been scolded, especially in season of life. There's a chance I may have even been spanked should news have broken of my trespassing. Thankfully, he never found out about this particular journey to his room, or if he did, he was gracious enough to not say anything. One of the items I found as a I thumbed through the pages of my father's Bible, a worn New Living Translation that looked like it was from the 70's, was a folded sheet of white paper that was quite faded, tucked neatly into the back behind the last of the thin blank pages. On the paper were days of the year printed out and next to those days different sections of the Bible to read on those specific days. It wasn't so much that my dad had set out to follow some sort of plan for getting through the whole of the scriptures in a year that interested me, it was the fading of the ink on the page that struck me. It was evident that my dad had used this scheduling mechanism repeatedly. The story it told me was not that my father had ambitions to read the Bible every day, but that he did read it every day. He made it a priority to get up early before the sun, before us kids, and before the work day, to spend time seeking God where He may be found. I never needed to see my dad lying there in bed with the Bible open (although, there were a couple times I did) to know he was spending time in it; I knew he was living differently by the evidence.
In my own life, there have been instances where I've been able to be the type of person who resolves to get up early, make the first thing the first thing, and have it affect the whole of my day. There have also been many more times where sleeping butts right up to the work day and I slink out of bed straight into a first meeting with nary a transition between other than brewing a cup of coffee and putting on clothes.
That discovery in my dad's bedroom changed something for me, even if only remembered from time to time. It was evidence of character, who my dad was when nobody was looking. He certainly wasn't a perfect man or father by any stretch of the imagination, but he was indeed someone who cared about becoming the sort of person he believed God had called him and created him to be. We make time for the things we care about and from what I could tell of the faded black text on that folder sheet of printer paper, my dad cared an awful lot about consistently spending time in the Bible, seeking understanding and clarity, and aiming to let that understanding change his life.
As fatherhood has now arrived at my doorstep, this strikes me as a possibility that my children might one day explore in private who I am by what I've presented to them through my belongings and habits. It's striking to think that perhaps they might find out who I am without my own explanation, but rather careful observation. Will my daughter discover that I too have prioritized God, or will she find instead heaps of clothes strew about or an iPad instead that's being charged for continual use? What is the story I'm telling her by how I live?