Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Andy Griffith - America's TV Dad


July 4th is a day of great celebration here in the United States, but this year it feels a little more somber than usual because just yesterday we had to say goodbye to Andy Griffith. Andy is remembered for his roles in great movies like A Face in the Crowd and No Time for Sergeants, and for his work later on TV’s Matlock. But Andy is best remembered as Sheriff Andy Taylor on the greatest TV show ever made, The Andy Griffith Show, which aired for eight seasons on CBS in the ‘60s and has lived on continuously in re-runs for over 50 years. The news of Andy's death seems doubly harsh because it's only been a couple months since we lost Andy's friend and co-star, George 'Goober' Lindsey.

Andy Griffith © Viacom International Inc.
Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor
Few shows have endured as long or captured the hearts of millions quite like The Andy Griffith Show. Maybe that's because the show wasn't just hilarious, but it also had heart. The host of lovable characters often remind us of people we know, their small-town problems tend to hit close to home, and we share many of the same traditional family values portrayed on the screen (or we wish more people did!). In many ways, we feel as if we know the people of Mayberry, and their town is also our hometown, or we wish it was.

One of the most endearing aspects of the show for me was the father-son relationship between Andy and Opie. As a little boy, I looked up to my dad the way Opie looked up to Andy, and I hope some day to have a little one who will look up to me the same way. I want to be that kind of dad.

Andy was a good father because he was involved. Not only was he a good provider, but he spent time bonding with his son. He spent time teaching his son the difference between right and wrong, and disciplined him when necessary. He taught Opie the importance of personal responsibility, working hard and appreciating what you have. He cared about Opie's problems and did his best to help. He ate dinner with the family and he took them to church regularly. Here, he serves as an inspiration for us all! Andy must have understood the Biblical truth:

"Train a child in the way he should go, 
and when he is old he will not turn from it."
- Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

Andy tries to teach Opie about charity © Viacom International Inc.
Andy tries to teach Opie about charity
Andy wasn't always the perfect dad - he was human like the rest of us and made mistakes along the way. For instance, in Season 1's "Opie's Charity", Andy jumped to conclusions when he didn't think his son had given enough to The Underprivileged Children's Fund. He became angry and began to punish the boy, but later learned that Opie wasn't being stingy at all: he was saving his money to buy a coat for a classmate whose family couldn't afford one.

Despite his flaws, though, Andy reminds me a lot of the God of the Bible, who is constantly involved in our lives, and provides for our needs (Matthew 6:31-33). We "bond" with God through our devotional times and our prayer lives (Psalm 145:18; James 4:8). His Word teaches us right from wrong (2 Timothy 3:16), and he is not afraid to discipline us, because he loves us (Hebrews 12:5-11). He expects us to take personal responsibility (2 Corinthians 5:10), to work hard (Colossians 3:23-25), and to be content with what we have (Hebrews 13:5). And he cares about our problems and helps us along the way.

"Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you."
- 1 Peter 5:7 

Let me share just a couple more similarities from one of my favorite episodes. In Season 2's "A Medal for Opie", Opie really wanted to win a medal at a local race, but when things didn't go his way, he became a sore loser and went home in a huff. Andy tried to correct him, but Opie was stubborn. Finally, reluctantly, Andy gave in, "Alright fine, fine, if that's the way you want to be, as long as we understand one another. But I want you to know one thing: I'm disappointed in you." As much as he loved Opie, he had to let him make his own mistakes. But thankfully, Opie came to his senses. He came to the courthouse to tell Andy he was willing to change even if he didn't understand everything Andy was telling him, and Andy took his son in his arms in a welcoming, tender embrace.

Andy welcomes back his prodigal son © Viacom International Inc.
Andy welcomes back his prodigal son
It brings to mind Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). When the son wanted to go his own way, the father let him make his own mistakes. But as soon as the son came to his senses and started back for home, the father ran and embraced him and welcomed him back. Jesus is saying that's the way God is. Like Andy, he tries to correct us and tell us what's best. But if we are stubborn - though he never stops loving us - he will let us go the wrong way in hopes that one day, we'll see the error of our ways and turn back. If we do turn back, he is waiting with open arms to receive us and welcome us home.

If you have wandered away from the Lord, it's not too late to come back home! He's waiting with open arms for you!

I don't know if you had a good dad growing up or not, but if you watch The Andy Griffith Show, you know what a good dad looks like. Andy Taylor reminds us that we all make mistakes sometimes, but he also points us to a loving God who is an infinitely better Father than we could ever hope to be.
"Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
- Matthew 7:9-11
Today, I am sad because my TV dad - America's TV dad - has passed away. But I am also thankful for the life principles he taught, and for all the happy memories that will forever live on through The Andy Griffith Show. Our lives will forever be enriched by the stories of the people in the poor little town of Mayberry. May we all be better fathers and sons (or mothers and daughters) because of it!

Rest in peace, Mr. Griffith!

The work you did was goooooood! Outstandingly good!


7 comments :

  1. Extra good, as Andy would say!

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  2. Like looseing a dear family member.

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  3. Thanks - I have tears welling up thinking about what this man accomplished with a simple 30 minute TV show - what a vision and a reflection of the goodly heart of America - of what it can be, should be and will be in God's coming Kingdom. I cannot heap enough hyperbole or sincere praise upon this show and its creator and main character, Andy Griffith. May he truly rest in peace.

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  4. I grew up on this show. It brought my family together everyday. Andy will be truly missed, but his legacy will live on.

    Also, this article was written beautifully. Very fine job.

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  5. I too loved this show, and was so very fortunate that my Dad was like Andy.
    I enjoyed reading your eloquent essay also.
    But there is one thing that I didn't understand, and I'm hoping you will shed some light on your thought process. "Poor" Mayberry: Our lives will forever be enriched by the stories of the people in the poor little town of Mayberry.

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  6. @Judy, Here's kinda what I was thinking:

    In Acts 3, Peter and John are on their way to the temple when a lame man asked them for money. Peter said, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you," and he gave him healing in the name of Jesus.

    Similarly, you could say that most folks in Mayberry didn't have much in the way of silver and gold. They weren't especially wealthy in the materialistic sense. But what they had - their humor, their wisdom, their values, their love - those things made them rich in a different way, and by sharing them with us, they have improved our quality of living, too.

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  7. Wow, you knocked another one out of the park, son! So proud of you. I do wish I could have been a better father to you though. I always have felt like I dropped the ball so often in that aspect. I grew up watching the show, as I've shared with you, and odly enough, I always felt like Andy reminded me of YOUR papaw! I have always said I wish I could be half the father and man that my father was. We'll all miss Andy but we know that he will live on in infamy as long as there is cable tv and satellite!

    To those who have had a good father, like I did, we should be thankful for what God has given us. I look forward to one day renewing my relationship with him in heaven! However, as you touched on in your article, I know that a lot of people were not so fortunate, but they can be assured that God loves them and is everything and MORE than what any earthly father could ever be! In the 6th Chapter of Matthew it says to "behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them....Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin...even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not MUCH MORE CLOTHE YOU..."

    Praise God for being the perfect example of what a father should be!!!

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