Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
If my father was alive, and here today on what would be his 90th birthday, I would take him with me to this bench. He lived life fully until the day he became ill with cancer. Four months later he was gone. But what I rejoice to know is that since he died, eighteen years ago, he has been in the presence of Jesus, completely cured, without sorrow or pain. I rejoice because someday I will see him again, not as my father, but as my brother in Christ, to live for eternity with our heavenly Father, the Lord God Almighty.
A Profound Influence
My father may not have realized what a profound influence his faith had on my life. Not because he was perfect, but because I knew Who he belonged to. He loved Jesus and I saw his love for Christ revealed in changes in his life, decisions he made, obstacles he overcame, his love for the Bible and for prayer. He shared his spiritual struggle and I saw his humbleness before God. Oh, how grateful I am for the faith of my father!
A Profound Change
When my father committed his life to Christ, I was in the eighth grade. He was listening to a preacher on the radio as he was driving home from a meeting. In the car my father gave his life to Christ. When he came home he was a changed man. I could see the difference. I told him years later that I saw him quit drinking, cussing, and smoking, all on the same day. As a teenager, I didn’t appreciate his new commitment to Christ, and I was usually a reluctant participant, whether it was going to church or a family devotional. I know I did not make it easy for him to offer spiritual guidance.
A Shared Burden
Years later my father and I talked about our faith in Christ. His greatest heartache was for his children and grandchildren to know Jesus as Savior. That is what happens when we know Christ. We understand that faith in Christ is the only hope for an abundant life, the only eternally essential commitment anyone can make. My father shared this burden with me. When I am praying for the people I love, I often remember my father, and I am encouraged to believe that God is answering our prayers.
A Shared Faith
For a short time we were attending the same church and went together to share our faith with others in whose homes we would visit. This is a memory I treasure. The Lord allowed me those days to share the most important aspect of my father’s life. I listened as he told others about Christ in his life. I prayed with my father and shared in the faith journey of my father.
A Shared Call
After I had accepted God’s call to ministry, my parents came to hear me speak in a church. As we drove home that night my father affirmed that he could see God’s call on my life. He affirmed me often in my call. What a gift that is! I know so many that long for their father’s blessing and never receive it. I am deeply grateful for my father, who gave me far more than I was worthy to receive.
A Sweet Sorrow
I miss him still, and if I had my choice, he would be here with us. I wish I could say I have been satisfied to know my eternal Father is with me each day, but in truth, there are many days I long to see my father’s face, to feel his touch and hear him laugh. On the other hand, if he asked me, “Andrea, do you want me to leave God’s presence and return to you?”, my answer would have to be, “no.” How could I want anything better for him that what he now has?