I knew it was coming but I had no idea that the arrow of this accomplishment would hit so deeply in my heart: Dad’s last day.
The picture came on a Facebook post and there they were, my parents, standing behind a purchased grocery store cake in the kitchen of a country church. How typical. Such a humble scene and yet so glorious. For eleven years he faithfully showed up every Wednesday to pour into the souls of whoever showed up to glean from the wisdom and knowledge of his lifetime of committed studies as an accomplished pastor-teacher. No. More than this – a recipient of a doctorate that was self-deserved. Almost 70 years of more than a successful ministry. This small group ingested first-class teachings of the last days of this beautiful man’s life and this day; it would come to an end. At 95 – he was ready to rest his commission.
I gazed into his face and remembered the many scenes that flashed before me – almost in black and white – as the little girl on the bus that he drove with several dozen teenagers seated in the back – singing choruses about the goodness of Jesus. 1960.
I remembered sitting in his lap sharing an ice cream cone from Mr. Frosty – the ice cream truck that wandered through the St. Louis neighborhood on a hot, summer evening. I remembered the footsteps of a faithful servant shuffling down a concrete driveway in the hours before dawn and knowing that he was on his way to a secluded place to be with Jesus and His Word – to glean from those beautiful pages of Scripture that teach us all ways that are contrary to this world. Faithful servant. I remembered the man who sat in my bedroom as I struggled with the realities of being a teenager and how he reasoned with me with gentleness and grace. Faithful parent. I remembered the father who pleaded with me to stop in a wayward direction and go back to the goodness of God. Longsuffering parent. I remembered the man who handed me a Bible and invited me to join him in a simple time of reading and time with God and it was in that moment – I did – I remembered God. And I came home.
So for many – you see an old man who served God well. But for me, I remember a man who served me well because He served God well.
Today was Dad’s last day. But for God, his days are eternal. And too for me, his days are eternal. What he taught me will never end and I will spend my life – until my last day trying to experience what he experienced. Trying to give what he gave. No showy platforms – no big accolades – no “big shot.” But I remember this – when Billy Graham died, he said to me – “There are no big shots in heaven.” True that Dad. But to me – you’re the big shot. I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m grateful for you, and I thank you.
You are the greatest man I will ever know.