“Son, there’s one thing they can never take away from you and that’s your education.” My grandfather said to my Dad, when he was a boy. Dad hated school. He would have much rather been outside playing baseball, basketball or football. He was jovial and fun loving, not the studious type. He was extremely intelligent, but whenever he heard the words “Time for a test”, his stomach got all tied up in knots, he started sweating, and he forgot everything he had been learning. The result? A bad test grade.
My dad went on to college, even though that meant sitting in class, taking notes, and (gasp!) taking tests! Discouraged after only two years, he decided a “sabbatical” would be in order.
“If you quit, you’ll never go back.” My granddad said to him.
“Yes, I will.” Dad would say.
When my grandfather died suddenly of a heart attack during Dad’s time off, my Dad was heartbroken. He would never be the same. He grew up overnight. He was now the man of the family, but still struggling to figure out his place in the world. Now, with his father gone, he had no one to lead him or help him in his journey.
One thing he knew for sure: he would go back to college. He had told Granddad he would, and Granddad doubted him. Dad would prove those doubts to be false. He went back and he graduated. He wasn’t an honors student, but he did it! He also met and married the woman of his dreams, my mother.
His hardest lessons, however, were not the exams he took in college under the his most feared professor, Dr. Adams. No, the hardest ones would be the tests he’d endure the rest of his life.
“I graduated from the ‘School of Hard Knocks’.” He told me, while I helped him put on a lawn mower blade in the driveway, wiping sweat from my forehead, like he did. “It’s a lot tougher than college! But, when you have the Lord, you can have a lot of help through the lessons.” He had met the Lord a few years before I was born, on a clear evening in Hot Springs, Arkansas, sitting at the kitchen table with my mother. The Lord changed my parents forever. Dad finally had someone to help him through the tough exams of life! He didn’t have his dad, but he had his Father!
Here I am, many years after that conversation on the driveway, going through the “School of Hard Knocks” myself. I’m still a young whipper-snapper, nowhere near graduation. And, to make matters worse, I lost my dad seven years ago. I’ve really needed his counsel, direction, prayer and comfort over these last seven years. I miss him every single day. But, before he left, he introduced me to the One who could guide me through the pain, sorrow and suffering that I must endure here at Hard Knocks University, the Lord Jesus. I don’t think I could make it without Him, that’s for sure! The tribulation is sometimes unbearable. I couldn’t make it if I didn’t have the Lord to carry the load.
I’m so thankful for my Dad, my “partner” in childhood. I’m thankful that he taught me about the “School of Hard Knocks”. He showed me by his life how to graduate from that school with honors.