When I think of my father, Paul Anderson, the Bible verse Luke 12:34 comes to mind. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. My heart has always belonged to my precious daddy, according to my equally precious mama. She says that I did not even recognize that I had two parents until my father’s home going when I was 27 years old. I appreciated then, maybe for the first time that I did, indeed, have another parent. Of course, I am sharing this tongue in cheek mixed with a great deal of truth.
As a young man, my father rose to the top of his chosen sport of weightlifting: National Champion, World Champion, and Olympic Gold medalist to name a few of his titles. Then he along with my mother started the Paul Anderson Youth Home to help guide teenage boys who had lost their way. In order to support the home financially, daddy spoke over 500 times a year. He would give a strength demonstration and then share his testimony. He would say, “If I, Paul Anderson, the strongest man in the world, can’t make it through one day without Jesus Christ, how can you?” I heard daddy say those words thousands of times, but one time in particular stands out in my mind.
Daddy had taken me with him on a speaking engagement to a large church that was fairly close to home. Daddy stood at a podium as he addressed the large audience. I was innocently sitting in the audience with the pastor’s daughter. As I remember it, she demanded that I run up and down the bleachers with her while daddy was speaking. As I finally landed on the perfect seat, my daddy was looking right at me: not his normal look but THE look when one eyebrow was higher than the other. As his arm was resting on top of the podium, he quickly pointed at me for a split second. I immediately felt my blood drop to my feet. I signaled to him with a little head nod that I got the message loud and clear. But daddy did not stop there, he announced to the crowd, “Forgive me, but I had to tell my daughter to sit still.” Well, let me just say that was a very long car ride home.
As a child, I couldn’t believe that daddy would draw attention to the fact that his child was misbehaving. Wouldn’t it have been better if he had kept the indiscretion between him and me and not broadcast it to the whole crowd? In my opinion, I had made him look bad and my behavior was an embarrassment to him. I never could understand his choice until I got older, that is. He loved me more than he loved himself or valued his reputation. He didn’t care if the crowd knew that his daughter was acting inappropriately. He only cared about the lesson he could teach me in that moment. “For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12
My father traveled extensively when I was young, but I hardly remember his absences. I do, however, remember the “very rare, extremely rare occasions” that I would get in some type of trouble and my mama would tell daddy ALL about it over the phone. They always shared multiple daily phone visits concerning the boys and business of the PAYH when he was on the road. I would walk around with a cloud of doom and dread over me until daddy arrived home. Once he arrived, he would usually give me a good “talking to” and that was all. He knew that I had already punished myself with my doomsday attitude of what punishment I may receive when “daddy gets home.” After our talk, I would think to myself, “Wow, what a relief, why did I spend all that time in the depths of worry and despair?”
Such is our relationship with our Heavenly Father because He does not have a plan to punish us, but to reassure us of His love. He is clear throughout His Word about the way that He wants us to live, and He is fair and just to us when we mess up. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” Psalm 103:13
Today, I look back with thankfulness at the complete trust that I had in my father. I was fearless when I was with him. I knew that I had no worries when I was under his care. He would sit me behind him on his Honda motorcycle and we would ride back roads during the warm summer months. I loved our motorcycle outings, but to be honest if I looked straight ahead all I could see was my daddy’s broad strong back. I never knew what was coming ahead. I had absolutely no control over where we ventured, but I was totally without fear. I trusted that daddy would get us home safely. The blessing of having a trustworthy and Godly father made it very easy for me to trust, without hesitation, my Heavenly Father.
These memories help me to visualize hanging onto Jesus as life speeds along, knowing that I must keep my eyes on Him alone for my heart to be at perfect peace. “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8
My daddy had more on his “to do” list than most, but he always made me feel welcome in any tasks in which he was engaged. When he was writing thank you letters to contributors of the Paul Anderson Youth Home, I was his secretary. I had my own little desk area beside his. He would take me along as he walked from his office to his home gym to work out. I would sit and watch, taking for granted the extremely heavy poundage that he easily pushed overhead. I was his carpenter’s assistant as he cut down trees for a future log cabin playhouse in the woods. And, around my teen years before I was able to drive, he would ride me around town until I was able to catch a glimpse of a certain someone on which I had a secret crush. Daddy’s patience with me helped me to accept and trust the patience that my Heavenly Father has for me. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
Daddy was a giant in stature, but he was even more colossal in his faith for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To this day, the blessings of a Godly father fill my life with wisdom, peace, and the certainty that I am loved. The memories that I have of daddy point me to scripture, lead me closer to Jesus, and allow me to visualize the fruit of a life well lived. An hour of my life does not pass that I don’t think of my glorious treasure, my beloved father. I thank the Lord everyday for blessing me in such a tremendously marvelous way.