As a pastor it is hard to tell where your life picks up and your job stops. Pastors either work four hours a week or 168, it’s one or the other, there’s no middle ground. At the same time, it’s hard to tell why you are doing stuff. Are you being nice because you are a Christian or because it is your job? Not sure it’s possible to answer that question and I’m not even sure it’s a real issue.
What I am sure of is that I don’t know why my dad did what he did, either out of duty or out of wanting to, but I do know he did it. God sees the heart, I see the external. All I know is that my dad put up with people and did things for them. In the end, I’m not sure it matters too much what our motives are, can we ever have completely pure ones anyway? The important thing is whether or not any fruit was created. My dad had fruit.
My dad will not be remembered on a global level or a national level, not even a state or city level. He is known by a relatively small group of people. But that group of people loved him and were impacted by him.
When I found out that my dad was dying I e-mailed him and asked him his perspective on death and life. Now that he’s almost done, does he think he should have done more? Does he view anything he did as a waste? Is there anything he’d like to tell me to stop doing and instead do something else? If I were to die in ten years, should this be what I spend my time doing? I was asking him very important questions, questions with serious ramifications for life, serious stuff.
Know what he told me in answer? His exact words were, “Relax. Don’t get your panties in a wad.” My dad never talked like that, but boom, there it was, still have the e-mail to prove it! Don’t worry about life was his concluding message to me. Do what you gotta do. His life itself left me with this message: worry about others, they’re the ones who need help, not me. The man put up with so much. Oh yeah, he let it out. One of the things I appreciated with my dad is that he would let it out. It was often let out in hilarious ways.
He taught me the finer art of criticizing people. He knew his stuff. But if I hadn’t seen that, I would be even more discouraged about my lack of living up to even his standard of life. Honestly, I think my immediate family has a problem distinguishing between whether we are following Christ or following Ken. I know I do. But I think my dad could say with Paul, “Be followers of me as I am of Christ.”
My dad never came across as though he were Christ, certainly never said that he was or even came close to comparing himself to Christ in this way. This is my interpretation of his life. But he had something right, he understood love and humility. He understood the Gospel; that Christ came to serve not to be served. My dad adopted that role so well.
Again, I’m blessed to have been around it and it’s unfortunate I didn’t fully realize it until his death. Christ’s dying words were “it is finished,” which is a bit more inspiring than, “Don’t get your panties in a wad,” but they are both important messages!
Since Christ does have it finished, the victory is won, salvation is secure, sin and death are defeated, don’t worry. Worry not for tomorrow, today has enough trouble of its own. Cast your burden on Him, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. My dad knew this, he grasped it, he lived it. It wasn’t pretty all the time and he did do his fair share of whining about it, but he did it.
Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. My dad endured junk down here for the same reason. He knew life was short and then came heaven. No one deserved to go to heaven early more than my dad. He did his time, he did his worrying about others, he did his help, it was time for his reward. I’m so glad he got it.
I was jealous when he died, that he would leave me down here to continue on, suffering and being miserable and making jokes about crummy life to keep me going. I wanted to go too. It didn’t seem right that God would take a good man like my dad who could do so much for so many and yet leave a jerk like me behind. Surely the world would get more benefit out of my dad than they would out of me. Yet, here I sit.
I love my dad. I always will. I almost feel as though I know him better now. All the stupidity of his old nature is gone, he views me without the stupidity of my old nature. I feel as though we get along better now! I know he understands that I’m sorry for the crummy things kids like me do to their parents. I know he is proud of me and he still loves me. I know that he still loves his family and wants God’s best for us. I know I can at any time send him a message and I’ll bet he gets them too. I can still share my victories and defeats with him. I still joke around with him, know he’s laughing up in heaven because seriously, I am funny.
My dad was a Christian. One of the best I’ve ever known. He gave me a template within which to work. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We walk by faith, not by sight. Faith cometh by hearing. Faith is not about seeing. Thomas saw Jesus and believed. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.” I have never seen Christ but I believe on Him. I believe that He died for my sins on the cross, that He was buried and that He rose the third day according to the Scriptures. I believe I have eternal life guaranteed in Christ.
I believed all this long before my dad died. I believed it because the Bible said it. I took God’s Word for it. But now that my dad has died, his life is over, I no longer believe the Bible is true and that Christ was real. Now I know it for a fact. I have seen Christ because I have seen my dad. Hope that is seen is not hope. For if a man sees, what does he yet hope for? I have seen it. It is true: Christ’s lives.
My dad is done. He’s in heaven now, living it up, playing heavenly music with a heavy bass line real loud for eternity. He has finished his course, He has fought his fight. He has received his crown of righteousness. He is in heaven with his Father. My dad, with just the optimism of heaven, has to be quite the character. I would love to be there with him.