The truth of life rarely reveals itself to youth–at least in our comfortable culture. But it is still ever-present, lurking just beyond us most of the time. Occasionally, though, and more and more as we grow older, we are forced to confront this unavoidable, inescapable truth of life: death. All of us will face it, some day. I attended the funeral yesterday of a man I knew from school. I attend church with his brother. He was 38 years old, and I stood next to his youngest son who was just four years old and across from that son’s older brother who looked to be about seven, as we lifted their father’s casket into the hearse to leave for the cemetery. My heart broke for those boys, but I know that our Father is perfect in His sovereignty, perfect in His righteousness, and perfect in His timing. At that moment, though, I wished I was wiser than I am–that there was some way to convey to those young boys that we have a perfect hope in a perfect God, and in His perfect, sinless Son who died for us. But though my wisdom is far from perfect, in my prayers I pray that God will reveal Himself to those boys as they grow older and that they would come to know Him as their Father, and to trust in Him even when everything else seems upside down. I was thankful for our pastor who preached the gospel at his service, though. He preached it faithfully and unflinchingly, this message of hope–our only hope–in Christ.
That was yesterday. Just two years ago today, I faced this inescapable, unavoidable truth myself when my father died. He went in for a minor surgical procedure that they thought would completely relieve what seemed like a rather minor ailment. But the surgeon found out when he went in with the scope that he was riddled with cancer that had metastasized and spread like wildfire. Twelve days later, he passed away. I rarely left his side, and although it was one of the most difficult trials I’ve ever faced, I never doubted God. I had a strange sense of peace the entire time. Even though my wife and I had been nearly three years wandering in a spiritual desert without a church home since we had moved next door to my parents, I completely trusted God through the entire experience. I must give God full credit even for that, though, for this faith was not of my own. Now, I was not emotionally distant or unmoved by any means. My heart was wrenched. I loved my dad. Over the last ten or so years, and most especially in the last three or four since we had moved next door to my parents, he had become my best friend. He was such an encourager for me, telling me often how proud he was of the man I had become–the husband, the father, and person. I don’t deserve such praise, I know that. I have many, many faults. But I do try to be a good father, and a good husband, and a faithful servant of His grace and for His glory. But I am just a man. I fail. I stumble. I fall. But I sure am thankful for all the times my dad sought to encourage me. In so many ways, he encouraged me to want to be a good father and a good husband and a good man. Because that is exactly how I saw him. Faithfully committed to one woman and to his family for over 42 years. Loving sacrificially. Helping people no one else cared about. Like me, just a man. By no means perfect, but striving to love, honor, and cherish the people the Lord had entrusted to him. Respected by his wife and son.
I got to coach both of my boys in three different basketball games today, and afterward we took my mom out to eat and talked about things we remembered and admired about their grandpa, my dad. I wanted to honor both of them, as well as honor God, with the time we got spend together today. And before I finish this day, I will add one more post, In Memoriam. In part, of course, it is to honor the memory of my dad. But it is also to recognize the awesome majesty of God and one of the countless ways He condescends to us, and one of the most amazing ways He spoke personally to me and my family and comforted us in the midst of our trial. This picture of His love will stand forever in my family as a testimony of His amazing grace, and His astounding mercy. I am still so completely humbled by what God did for this simple little family of mine. But this is His story, so much more than it is mine.