There are many ways that I count myself blessed. I have a wife and family that bring me joy, work that is meaningful, friends who are caring. But back before all of that I received a great gift, a mom and dad who loved me and who modelled to me what it meant to follow Jesus. They weren’t perfect, but they lived out their faithfulness to God and let me watch. I always knew that I was loved, not for any successes I had, but based on the fact that I was their child. As the years go by I can see more and more how this has impacted me. Often it becomes clear as I see the struggles of others have who haven’t started with such a stable foundation in their early years.
Eight and half years ago my dad went home to be with Jesus. I still think of him almost every day. He lived a quiet life and worked hard to provide for his family. He prayed each morning with my mom for every single one of us. I can remember hearing them at the breakfast table while I got dressed for school, “God take care of…, protect…”. One by one, name by name, the list growing as my older siblings got married and had children. He was active in our church too, a leader for many years, though it often caused him great heartache. He taught my Sunday school class several times, not a dynamic presenter, but he shared his love for the Scripture in such an earnest way that it made a lifelong impression on me. I remember once while I waited for him to finish a conversation with a friend, hearing him share the truth of Jesus and calling that man to take his words seriously. He didn’t even realize I was listening, but it was a moment I will never forget.
There were so many little things my dad did over the years that became foundation stones to the man I have become and am becoming. They weren’t big and dramatic events or actions, but the constant stream of faithfulness carved a path through my life that has made way for an increasing understanding of how the grace of God meets us right where we are. I was reminded of my dad’s impact this morning as I read a section from Mary Oliver’s poem “On Thy Wondrous Works I Will Meditate (Ps 145).
My dad simply was. He had felt and experienced the grace of God deeply and it changed him. He had “eaten the dark hours” and lived with struggles and pain, but God had been enough for Him. That was a tremendous gift to me, a self-conscious young boy growing up in the Bible Belt, wrestling with all the expectations of so many. I am thankful that in his final years I had the chance to thank him for his faithfulness. He was always reticent to receive my words, humbly saying that God did good things in spite of him, but I think he was encouraged to know how I loved him and was thankful for his life.
Maybe you have someone like that in your life? Maybe today would be a good day to let them know?