Richard Fairchild tells about a story that appeared years ago in the Christian Reader. It was called “Priceless Scribbles.” It concerns a father who touched his child’s life in an unexpected way. A young boy watched as his father walked into the living room. The boy noticed that his younger brother, John, began to cower slightly as his father entered. The older boy sensed that John had done something wrong. Then he saw from a distance what his brother had done. The younger boy had opened his father’s brand new hymnal and scribbled all over the first page with a pen.
Staring at their father fearfully, both brothers waited for John’s punishment. Their father picked up his prized hymnal, looked at it carefully and then sat down, without saying a word. Books were precious to him; he was a minister with several academic degrees. For him, books were knowledge. What he did next was remarkable, says the author of this story. Instead of punishing his brother, instead of scolding, or yelling, his father took the pen from the little boy’s hand, and then wrote in the book himself, alongside the scribbles that John had made. Here is what that father wrote: “John’s work, 1959, age 2. How many times have I looked into your beautiful face and into your warm, alert eyes looking up at me and thanked God for the one who has now scribbled in my new hymnal. You have made the book sacred, as have your brother and sister to so much of my life.”
“Wow,” thought the older brother, “This is punishment?” The author of the story, now an adult, goes on to say how that hymnal became a treasured family possession, how it was tangible proof that their parents loved them, how it taught the lesson that what really matters is people, not objects; patience, not judgment; love, not anger.