We didn’t have much of a chance to talk when I was growing up, but later my dad and I would talk for hours.  We were both thinkers and we’d each spend way too much time in our heads trying to work out our problems.  We also both shared an inclination to write things down.  And when one called the other, all those thoughts that had been swirling around in our heads or maybe even made it onto paper, spilled out into our conversations.

We took turns, comparing notes, collaborating, solving the world’s problems since we couldn’t seem to solve our own.

I knew a little bit about the difficult life he’d had, and he knew a little bit more about mine.  Being my dad, I know he wanted to help me.  I don’t know much more of a helpless feeling than to be a parent who can only stand by and watch a child suffer.

He saw me flailing, struggling, and it was as if he were watching me from shore with no boat and no life raft of his own to share with me.

So he’d call out to me the best advice he could give: “Go with the flow.”

“Yeah, I know.”

But fighting came easier somehow.  It was instinctual.

They say if you’re caught in a riptide, swim with the current, parallel to the shoreline, until you’re safe.  But most people fight the current.  They use all their strength trying to swim back to shore in direct opposition to the powerful and relentless current, and many don’t make it.

Go with the flow.  Accept.  Yield.

Paul the apostle put it like this:

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13 NAS

For God’s sons and daughters, He is that current in our lives.

He blows the winds of circumstances where He will, and to fight them is to fight Him, and no one wins fighting God.

But when we accept the circumstances of our lives as coming from the hand of a loving, all-powerful, all-present and all-knowing Father, we can, with Paul, learn the secret of contentedness, and trust Him to carry us to safety.

It seems to me at this moment a happy coincidence that my dad’s name was Paul, too.

Whether centuries ago or just a couple of decades, truth is truth, and somehow the Lord in His mercy, knowing full well that one day he’d give his heart to Christ, gave my dad what he needed to get through the storms of his life.

I didn’t get it so much when my dad was giving me his advice years ago.  I was younger then and still had the energy and stubbornness to fight.  But I’m getting it a little bit more these days.  God’s patience and many trials have worn me down.   And I’m glad.  All that flailing was blocking the voice of God. Now I’m learning to be still and listen.

There are days I wish my dad had lived long enough to be able to read what the other Paul had to say about “going with the flow” in the light of Christ.  To have to the chance to take that thought one step further and know that it’s more than just tolerating life’s trials.  That in Christ he could find strength and even joy in the middle of those circumstances, and even grow through them.

Most of the time, though, I rejoice that my dad was able to escape the suffering of this life and receive his reward just five days after he let Christ into his life.

If he were still here, he’d be 76 today and still trying to figure it all out, just like I am.  But he is home now, and he is ageless, living a life more contentedly than he ever imagined.

I wonder if the two Pauls have met yet.  I can just see them, sitting together, comparing notes, but this time without a care in the world.

Happy Birthday, Dad.