A Tribute to an Exemplary Father
Robert D. Foster
A good father has a powerful, enduring influence. Even today, at the age of 94, I feel the indelible, godly impact my father – Delos Lynn Foster – had on my life.
Dad was born on a horse-sheep ranch in the hilly country of Jordan Valley, Oregon, U.S.A. Is it any wonder that he passed on to me his love for land, trees, horses, people and God? The legacy of my father’s Scottish-English roots is a gift that was tied with two staunch branches – from the Forester side is the theological anchor, and the other is the Dinwiddies’ devotion.
After his days in college, Dad moved to Watsonville, California to become a salesman at L.E. Bain Clothing Company. While living there with an older cousin, the YMCA became a vital part of my father’s life, both physically and spiritually.
Within a couple of years, the “Y” offered young Del (his nickname) a job if he would be willing to move to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “My love for young men in their relationship with God was more important than selling them clothes,” I often heard my father remark. This new, start-up position did not offer much of a salary, so once again Del was back to selling in a retail store. This time, however, it was with the local J.C. Penney store.
Lars Tendall, manager of the local store, introduced my father to the legendary, visionary businessman J.C. Penney, who immediately issued him a challenge. “Del, come to work with me full time, because I am planning on opening other operations and you would be ready to manage one of them.” After he discussed the opportunity with his sweetheart, Sadie (my mother-to-be) and had spent many days in prayer, Dad had peace and confidence when he arrived at his decision.
The year was 1910, and World War I would start in 1912. My father’s decision was simple: “I’m staying with the ‘Y,’ and God will supply,” he announced. He stayed true to that decision.
When I was nine years old, in 1929, I had the unforgettable experience of going with my father to the Union Railroad Station in Chicago to meet Mr. Penney, who was arriving on the inaugural run of New York Central’s “Commodore Vanderbilt” train.
As “J.C.” stepped down from the parlor car, he picked me up and, according to my father, whispered in my ear, “Your dad made the right choice.” What an amazing statement. Dad had given up the opportunity to become a corporate executive, choosing instead to remain a YMCA secretary where he was able to invest in the lives of young men and make a difference in their lives for eternity.
One important principle I learned from this is simple: We make decisions, but decisions also make us.
That is what it talks about in Joshua 24:15, an Old Testament passage: “Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house (my family), we will serve the Lord.” To this day, I am eternally thankful my dad made this decision.
Robert D. Foster is the founder of Lost Valley Ranch and currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.A. He has been actively involved with CBMC for many years and served on the CBMC-USA National Board.
1. Mr. Foster writes this “Monday Manna” as a tribute to his father’s positive impact on his life. How does your experience with your own father compare to this? How do you think this has influenced your life to this point?
2. Some observers have stated that with the dramatic increase of single-parent homes, the importance of fathers and their influence has become undervalued? What are your thoughts about that?
3. Instead of accepting the offer of a very promising career in business, the elder Mr. Foster elected to remain in a position where he could be a positive influence in the lives of young men. Can you imagine making a similar decision if confronted with such a choice? Why or why not?
4. What is your reaction to the statement, “We make decisions, but decisions also make us?”
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Psalm 37:3-7; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:23-24; 2 Timothy 3:16-17