All day yesterday I thought of my dad who was sitting behind me in church, unaware that I was in front of him a few rows, unable to take part or enjoy church-- a place he loved with all his heart. Alzheimer’s is an ugly disease and although my dad is with us in body, the dad I always knew and spent much time in fellowship with is gone.
Last night my husband preached on casting a shadow on other’s with your life. He told how each of us cast a shadow rather we want to or not, and that it will always be a part of us. Then he told some stories about my dad--a man who cast a long shadow with his life. He used his life and influence for Christ.
As a little girl I knew that my daddy knew Christ and was going to heaven. That’s why I asked him to pray with me when I was afraid of going to hell. He put his paper down and prayed with me. I didn’t get saved that night, but I knew who to go to about spiritual matters.
When I got saved I heard a message on Calvary by a guest preacher my dad had at our church. I was scared to go to the altar, but I reached up and took my dad’s hand and asked the Lord to come into my heart and save me. Once again, I knew who I could trust and feel safe with when it came to the spiritual matters in my life.
Dad never entered a restaurant, gas station or motel without trying to find someone to talk to about their eternal soul. Dad cared about where people spent eternity and if they were with him any time at all they knew it.
I could tell story after story of people he “offended” with his straight-on approach about spiritual matters, I could also tell you page 2 -- when they hit bottom in their lives and realized they needed a Saviour they knew who to find to lead them to Christ. He cared and it showed.
I’ve sat and listened to people who dad led to the Lord and then got cold and backslidden. Some of them their marriages fell apart, some of them it was worse than that, they saw the chastening hand of God take loved ones. I’ve listened to them say, “Those were the best years of our lives when we sat under Brother Bob--and we didn’t even realize it.”
I’ve listened to my dad counsel people late into the night. I learned as a young girl that those who did what he showed them in the Bible went on to live productive, happy lives. Those who ignored what he showed them in the Bible ended up with a life that was shipwrecked. Dad had no idea that with my bedroom door cracked he was counseling his daughter at the same time.
I had to learn as a teen that my dad was as human as anyone else and once I wasn’t a little girl any more and could clearly see some of his faults I needed to learn to depend on God to meet my needs where my dad failed me. (Psalms 27:10) That was a lesson that led to some broken fellowship between my dad and I until I got close enough to the Lord to realize that my dad had needs too, and if I desired something from my dad I needed to give him what I yearned for.
I learned if I wanted his ear, I needed to give him mine. If I wanted some trust, I had to trust him. If I wanted his attention, I needed to pay close attention to him. If I wanted time--I needed to give him time.
I also learned maturity is taking the responsibility for my sinful behaviour instead of blaming it on my dad’s fathering skills.
Learning this lesson from my heavenly Father gave me a very close relationship to my earthly father. That closeness never ended. We had it right up to the day he didn’t know me any more as his daughter.
When my depression literally “fell on me” for over twelve years, my dad was the one who spent long hours on the phone with me. My dad was the one that came and stayed at my house for three days and would put those wonderful aging hands on me and cry out to God for me. I could feel the agony lift when he prayed for me. Once again, my dad was there for me when the spiritual life in me was so low I couldn’t even be sure it was there.
When mom and dad had their 50th wedding anniversary celebration one person after another told how my parents lives had influenced their life. They told how dad “chased them down” with the gospel and how grateful they were. They told how dad put the fear of God in them about their eternal souls. They told stories of how he helped get their faith renewed, their vision focused on what really mattered, shored them up in the storms of their lives.
Letters poured in that thrilled my mom and dad to read of their influence in their tireless rounds of spreading the word of God wherever they could and encouraging soldiers in the fight for the Lord.
Servant, prayer warrior, fierce defender of the faith, fearless fighter and my dad.
Impetuous, outspoken, rushing in where angels fear to tread….yes, that was my dad.
Tenderhearted, quick to ask forgiveness, open before all….yes, that was my dad.
Real. Yes, that was my dad.
Years before the Alzheimers came my dad asked me to pray that he would finish right. I don’t know how many times as I’ve prayed that I’ve wondered how this is finishing right--but I trust the Lord it is, and daddy, I’m still praying for you to finish right.
When we used to go to fellowship meetings together they would ask daddy and I to sing “Home Sweet Home. Yesterday, I sang it to him. He used to join in on the chorus with me. When I asked him to sing with me yesterday he said haltingly, “Well, that might take a while.”
As I sung it I thought of so many other songs dad sang with us. He used to sing to us (we didn’t like this one because he took it very literally! )-“When I Take My Vacation in Heaven”. He loved “Till The Storm Passes By”, “Power in the Blood”,“Keep on the Firing Line”, and “Is That the Lights of Home I See?”. We sang along with Brother Roloff as he would sing “Deeper Than the Stains Have Gone”.
Oh, how I miss my precious dad and his boldness. I’ve asked for a double portion, then wondered if a double portion of my dad would scare most Christians today to death! J
So, although you can’t read this daddy, all your friends and family can. I love you more each day I live. Happy Father’s Day from your “Palm Tree”-Tamara