Sometimes it feels like the apple fell far from the tree. My dad (seen here standing between his mom and dad) is 6’4” and broad as an ox. I’m 5’10” on a good day and built more like… a goat, I guess. My dad has never walked into a room full of strangers; they’re just people he hasn’t had a chance to meet – yet. When I encounter more than one or two people I don’t know at a time, my system goes into overload and I look for a corner to hide out in.
But the fact is, there isn’t a single part of my life that doesn’t bear the indelible fingerprint of Steve Miller. Every kid has a season when they want to be just like the old man, but not every man is worth emulating. I’m not sure why, but I’m one of the lucky ones who discovered that being just like his dad is an utterly worthwhile aspiration. I love books because my dad loves books – he’s the one who turned me onto C.S. Lewis and Brennan Manning, among others. I love music because my dad bought me my first cassette tape of Billy Joel back in elementary school sometime, and because he had a killer record collection, the crowning artifact of which was Elton John Live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and of course the complete works of Rich Mullins. I could on and on about the good things he introduced me to in life.
But the greatest thing he’s ever given me is his honest love for God. For a kid who grew up in church with parents who were sincere in their religious devotion, I think I inherited a relatively minimal amount of the kind of religious appearance-maintaining piety that so often goes hand in hand with that kind of upbringing. My dad never seemed too concerned with playing a religious game. He’s always been pretty honest about his weaknesses, thankful for grace, and anxious to do his part in serving the Kingdom. He always wants to learn more and get stretched. Just today he told me he was trying to figure out his next step in faith, looking for something that would be outside his comfort zone. Sometimes loving God seems less like something you choose, more like something contagious that you catch from someone else’s faithfulness. There was some good stuff floating in the air in my house growing up.
If people do look at me and him and say, “the apple sure didn’t fall far...”, I’ll be humbled and honored. He’s outrageously generous. People really matter to my dad. He’s one of the smartest guys I know. He’s noble and sincere and deeply warmhearted. He’s courageous – I’ve seen him suffer for doing good, with never a chip on his shoulder or an ax to grind. He’s strong – we’ve walked through a few hard chapters in our family, but we’ve always come out stronger together thanks to his strength. And he loves my mom like a champ. (In fact, I gotta give you one more picture. I love this one of the two of them.)
I could be wrong – I’m only 26 – but I don’t think a kid ever outgrows the need to hear, “I’m proud of you, son” from his dad. I can’t tell you how many times my dad has made that point clear to me. Believe me, that'll put wind in a kid's sails.
Thanks, Dad. For everything. For being strong for our family. For being generous and showing me grace. For treasuring Mom the way you do. For introducing me to worthy heroes, and for being a towering hero yourself. I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!