Looking Back on a Life
When I think back to my dad’s life, certain pictures or incidents come into my mind, as I am sure happens for you when you think back on your father. I have memories of him during my childhood, throwing baseball with me. I remember him standing by me as my best man when I got married. I remember him playing with my children when they were small. I remember him caring for my mother during her bouts with cancer and eventual home going. And, I remember him during his final years, as his own health deteriorated. I saw him seek out ways to minister to people even as his avenues and opportunities to do so became fewer and fewer.
As I think through those memories, I also realize how God worked in him over the course of his life. I never thought of my father as an ungodly man, but it is clear to me in hindsight that God sanctified him in many ways as the years passed.
One example related to his tendency to workaholism during my younger years. As a child of the Depression, he considered his job to be a sacred thing. It was his means to provide for his family, which his own poverty-stricken childhood taught him to not take lightly. He worked so many hours, he could have been out of town on business for two or three days before I would have noticed his absence. This had a detrimental effect on my brother and me.
Seeing Change in My Dad
However, a couple of years after graduating from college, my brother was in a severe car accident that put him out of work for six months with a brain injury. During his recovery and rehabilitation, my father left our home and his own work and stayed with him for six months straight. Dad told us that he had not been there for my brother before, but he would be there now, no matter what. This may seem like no big deal to many of you, but I saw it in later years as a change in priorities, and a true desire to redeem what the locusts had eaten.
I don’t believe that my father, who was a Christian for my entire life, changed at his essence. However, I believe that God rounded off the rough edges of his character over the course of the years. His life progressively became more consistent with who God had made him to be, which was to be more like Jesus.
My dad was a work in progress throughout his life. While I saw elements of his stellar character and faith even when I was a little boy, I saw it more and more over the years. His final, weaker years were actually some of his strongest.
When we look over the lives of our fathers, and our own lives, we must see them in their totality, as well as a progression of the grace of God. I am not the man I was, praise God. And praise God, I hope to one day not be the man I am now. And in making that progress, I will walk gratefully in the steps of my father.