Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dad, with love.

Today was a celebration of my dad's life. Not only remembering my dad and who he was, but Who he lived for. I don't feel like the English words "thank you" expresses how grateful I am to friends and family that came to the service. I was completely blown away to see so many friends there, even ones I hadn't seen in a very long time! What an incredible blessing from the Lord!  I had the privilege to speak at my dad's service, and the following is what the Lord laid on my heart.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying about the wonderful good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

I don’t think there is just “one word” to sum up my dad. He was so many things to so many people he encountered throughout his life. He was funny, caring, dedicated, faithful, hard working, humble, and the list goes on. My dad didn’t know a stranger and made every person he talked to feel important and valued- which was a lot because he loved to talk to people! I’m sure he’s seeing a lot of people in heaven right now that he maybe met only briefly in his lifetime, but somehow greatly impacted!

My dad deeply loved his family. Looking through some of his drawers and dressers there were pictures of cousins, aunts and uncles, and us kids everywhere. Even though most of them were old pictures, he never took them down. He cherished every card, and I mean every card from us, whether handmade cards from my brother, sweet cards from my sister, or corny birthday cards from me, they were still all hanging up at his desk. Even a poem my brother and I wrote for him in the 3rd grade was still hanging up by his desk! I know he thought about us a lot and loved us so well. He’d call from work ‘just to talk’, even just for 10 minutes, encourage us with a verse, or even sing us a song. My sweet, sweet mama and daddy shared 35 years together and have been such a testimony of faithfulness and unconditional love. Lovers through thick and thin.

My dad never forced us to be anybody we weren’t. He encouraged us in our extracurricular activities- no matter what they were. And even though he wasn’t always able to be there because of his job, his words of encouragement and telling us how proud he was always meant so much. His love was completely unconditional and never got upset if we didn’t get 1st place or “win” or whatever the case, he was just so proud of us for going out there and doing our best. His smile and hugs were worth more than any medal or ribbon received.

My dad’s life was never about himself. I know my family can all recall countless times of my dad’s generosity, even when it didn’t seem like he had much to give. I remember one time he passed by a man on the side of the road while I was in the car with him. He mentioned something about going back and talking to him, and I was begging him not to because that meant he would be talking to this stranger for at least 30 minutes and that’s just not what I wanted to do! Well, of course, he turned the car around, drove back, and parked near where the man was. We got out of the car and my dad gave him some food he had in the back of the car. I can’t remember the conversation or even how long it was, but I’m sure he talked to that man about Jesus. He wasn’t about to let that man go without a Bible and the Gospel presented! He even picked up a kid waiting outside in the hot summer heat and gave him a ride where he needed to go. My dad taught me so much about compassion and generosity that I will never forget.

My dad worked hard for our family. He never sought the recognition or praise of man over that of the Lord’s and was a true example of doing all things without complaining. When others would have quit or thrown in the towel, gotten upset and felt sorry for themselves, my dad chose to persevere and endure, to choose joy and praise the Lord. When any other dad might be closed off and want to be alone after long hours of work, my dad was rejuvenated by spending time with us and loving on us.

Not only was his love of family so evident, but his love of the Lord shined brighter than anything else. His Bible would always be open at his place at the table. He wasn’t ashamed to lift his hands high, jump around, and shout praises of joy to the Lord. He wasn’t ashamed to walk up to complete strangers and hand them a small Bible and some snacks. He wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel- The Good News that gave him the very life he lived. Romans 1:16 says “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” That seemed to be my dad’s life verse… among many others! He lived by the truth of God’s word! The grace and love of Christ poured out from his heart, and he was a true testimony of a faithful, humble servant. He would pray these verses over me as he tucked me in at night, ones I will never forget:

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

There may not be “one word” to sum up my dad, but if there was one thing my dad lived for, One Person he lived for, it was Jesus Christ. Yes, he loved us very much. He loved others so well and put them before himself. But all of that was just an overflow of his love and passion for Jesus.

Looking back on his life these last couple of weeks with family and friends, and reflecting on my dad’s last months, I see even more clearly how my dad lived for things of eternal value. He truly saw each moment as a gift, definitely didn’t rush through life, and really lived each day as if it were his last. My dad was full of life and shared Life with others.

I am so comforted knowing that he is in heaven now, partying with Jesus and the angels, pain and cancer free, never having to be rushed through a conversation again because he has all eternity! He probably had the biggest welcoming party at the gates as he heard the words from the Lord: “Well done, My good and faithful servant”. I’m sad because I miss him, but I have such joy and peace knowing that Romans 8:18 is true: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” And I know my dad is basking in the glory of God right now, where he was always meant to be.

still joyfully praising,

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