Wisdom Wears a Blue Robe
By Sam Shaw
If you were to walk into the Shaw house at 6:30 AM on a weekday in the year 2000 you’d undoubtedly encounter the following: 1) two slightly toasted chocolate Pop-tarts, 2) a sleeping 17-year old on the living room floor holding his untied shoelaces, and 3) my dad in a blue robe reading the Bible on the living room couch.
I’m not a robe guy, but my dad is. Every morning during my high school years he customarily wore a blue one with his initials embroidered on the section covering his left chest. Although I cringed imagining him wearing it in public, that robe holds significant meaning to me.
Apparently, God is also a blue robe fan. He commanded Aaron to wear a blue robe while serving as High Priest in the Jewish Tabernacle in Exodus 39. Needless to say, wearing the blue robe involves weighty spiritual obligations and accountability. As his son, I have a uniquely close-up view of how my dad manages his “blue robe” responsibilities as a spiritual leader.
My dad and I frequently have deep conversations now that our relationship involves less football throwing and golf club swinging. During one recent conversation he commented that highly talented people often have fatal flaws, and that both success and failure will expose these flaws if a person lacks integrity. If you’re reading this blog there’s no need to sell you on my dad’s exceptional spiritual leadership abilities. I’ve closely witnessed his highest highs and lowest lows as a spiritual leader. My conclusion: I have not known nor will I ever know a man of greater integrity. He’s perfectly suited for the blue robe.
For me, the image of my dad reading the Bible in his blue robe embodies why I hold him in higher regard than any other human. First and foremost, it validates his exceptionally authentic faith. He teaches, preaches, and encourages people to devote themselves to God and others above self, and his morning routine tangibly represented how he privately practiced what he publicly preached. It’s uncommon to see someone clearly proclaim Biblical truth without compromise, even more scarce someone live it out. I took my dad’s exceptional integrity for granted early in life. Our world is inherently skeptical of authority figures, understandably so considering how often they abuse power, act out of self-interest, seem apathetic, or are simply incompetent to handle their responsibilities. Because of my dad’s example, I have an abnormally positive outlook on authority and leadership. He’s made it easy for me to recognize how great it is to be under God’s authority.
Second, the blue robe inspired my personal faith. My dad’s consistent morning time reading the Bible, often with brief interruptions so he could share something he was learning with me, drove me to seek an individual connection with his God. My dad never wanted me to be just like him, he wanted me to experience as he had a real, true, and fulfilling relationship with our creator. It struck me how tangible an invisible God was to him, and that the Bible actually directed the way he lived his life; so much so that I felt an urge, not an obligation, to explore it for myself.
Finally, the blue robe represents his approachability. I find it hard to believe when people say my dad intimidates them. Trust me, the corny robe/bed head combination does not create a threatening vibe. He commands such respect, but I never felt afraid of my dad. Long before he donned the robe of my high school years, his selfless pursuit of my friendship, willingness to share his weaknesses, and gentle instruction removed all fear from our relationship. 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” I can talk to my dad about anything and feel safe, yet he’ll never hold back the truth, even if it’s hard to handle. I’ve only observed Jesus to have this skill in greater measure than my dad, no one else.
James 1:2 says it’s pure joy to face many trials because they test our faith and produce perseverance, which makes us mature and complete. My dad’s current physical condition is a trial of the highest order, one that he faces with unimaginable joy and grace as he reaches heights of maturity few could imagine, let alone attain. Quite fitting, if you ask me, for a man that wears a blue robe.