Day 23: A Father’s Heart / by Jeff Tacklind

Today my son bought an electric guitar.  He saved up his pennies and purchased it himself.  That is such a rite of passage moment.  This isn’t a gift from his dad who is hoping maybe this hobby will stick.  No, Gabe is hungry.  He paid for it himself.

Many of you know Gabe plays the drums, and happens to be a fabulous drummer.  But Gabe isn’t just a drummer, he’s a musician.  Whatever instrument is nearby, he’ll pick it up and tinker with it. Saxophone, piano, stand-up bass, you name it.

But electric guitar is the thing that has really grabbed him.  It is fun to watch his eyes light up when he talks about it.  I hear him listening to “old people” music like the Strokes or Radiohead or the Arctic Monkeys.  It is what he and I do now whenever we’re driving somewhere.  We walk down memory lane as he asks me about the music from my past.  Gabe can tell you more about Jack White or Kurt Cobain than I ever could.

So, I asked my friend Marc if he could give us some input on what Gabe should buy for his first guitar.  Marc happens to be one of the best guitarists in the world.  Seriously.  So you can imagine his response.  “What guitar to buy???  That’s way too big of a question! He’s got to sit down and play them. What matters most is that he gets the one he likes.”

It reminded me of Olivander, the wand seller in Harry Potter, saying, ”the wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter.”  “The guitar chooses the guitarist.”

Marc met us today at Guitar Center.  It was a little bit like having Kelly Slater come help my son pick out his first surfboard.  But Marc was so into it.  He was so kind with Gabe, as he pulled different models off the racks.  “Ooh, here’s one if you want to go more Kurt Cobain!”  Marc knows everything about guitars, and not just sounds, but styles, colors, eras.  This is a man who has invested his entire life in this instrument. 

None of the employees were old enough to shave, and none of them recognized who he was.  They chipped in with their own input and perspectives. But Marc didn’t skip a beat.  He has no need for attention or recognition.  I love that about him.

Marc is a master guitarist, and yet a master that has lost none of his joy.  It meant the world to me to watch him invest this time with my son.  I can think of no greater gift you could give me.

When we got home, Gabe asked, why do you think Marc was willing to do that for me?  “Well…he’s our friend.  And he loves guitars.  And, I think, it meant a lot to him too to be a part of your first purchase.”

As I sit here tonight, writing, I feel grateful.  Grateful for new friends, and new instruments, and the future joy that awaits Gabe as he continues to figure out just who he is.  I love my quiet, thoughtful son, who has fantastic taste in music, amazing rhythm, and who longs for a bit more distortion.

I think of Marc, with all his knowledge and experience, sitting down and playing these bottom end guitars, making them come to life, finding out just what Gabe likes, and then pointing with confidence… “that’s the one!”

It was a glimpse, for me, into God’s heart.  He delights in our simple gifts that must look so small to Him, and yet He continues to find such pleasure in our steps.  God doesn’t just honor us with his presence, he comes down to our level.  Not simply for our joy, but for His.

The realization that God delights in me causes me to blush.  I feel that odd mix of humility and joy.  But the fact that God delights and takes pleasure in my son…well, as a father, It delights my heart. It is the greatest gift I could ask for.