A father’s example of grace

A clothes pole and a new lawn mower set the scene for a lesson on forgiveness and love.

Dan Nommensen

It’s Father’s Day! It’s that time of year where men everywhere get new ties and gift cards to their favorite local hardware store! Along with the time spent with family and special gifts, on Father’s Day, I can’t help but remember my own father who has now been in heaven for nearly 20 years.

An accident revisited

My father was a busy pastor of a large congregation in Milwaukee. As busy as he was, he always seemed to find time to take me fishing or watch my baseball games, and we always enjoyed cutting the lawn together. Each of us had a push mower, and we’d go back and forth for what felt like hours.

Then one day we got a riding lawn mower! When it arrived, my dad looked at me and said, “Well, Dan, go ahead.” I was the first to ride it! Me!

This was the greatest moment of my life up to that point. Off I went! Sure, Dad told me to start off in a low gear, but I was 11 years old! I had ridden go-karts at full speed. I could handle higher speeds. There was nothing but open grass all around me . . . and one clothes pole.

I literally moved that lawn mower 50 feet before hitting that clothes pole. I managed to avoid all the open grass and hit it straight on. The front end of the mower was cracked, the headlight was broken, and part of the metal cover was bent. I felt absolutely, positively horrible. I prepared myself for the biggest punishment I would ever see. What was Dad going to do?

God’s love reflected

Well, here’s what happened. He ran over and helped me turn off the tractor because it was still in gear and hitting the pole again and again. Then he said . . . nothing. Before I could even say a word, he knew that I felt absolutely horrible. He knew that what I didn’t need at that moment was a huge dose of the law with scolding and a permanent restriction from ever riding the lawn mower again.

I got off the tractor and announced my own punishment: “I’ll never ride this again—EVER! I promise.”

He responded, “That’s okay. We’ll just take the clothes pole down when we cut next time.” The damage to the mower was never repaired. My dad never mentioned it again.

I used that mower for nearly 25 years. The damage to the front served as a reminder to me about the use of the law and gospel. The unconditional forgiveness my dad showed me that day flowed from a heart that loved the Lord. It was a demonstration of the love shown by our heavenly Father through the sacrifice of his son Jesus. When I felt I needed to dole out my own punishment, Dad helped me see something different. He helped me realize mercy, grace, and forgiveness. I knew Dad’s love and forgiveness for me came from his heart as a reflection of God’s love for him.

I can recall this and other moments that help me recognize the opportunities I have to make a lasting impression in the lives of my own children. Because Jesus loves me, I want to make every day an opportunity to demonstrate that love in the lives of my children and others.

Dan Nommensen is a member at Calvary, Thiensville, Wisconsin.




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Author: Dan Nommensen
Volume 103, Number 6
Issue: June 2016

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