My dad was one of the toughest, most powerful men I have ever known. He could handle anything. I remember him saying once that if ever I saw him running, I best run too because something terrible was heading our way. He was so tough that he could get a root canal without any pain meds or Novocaine and declare that he never even felt it. In all my growing up years, he was only sick once with the flu. I remember because I laughed inwardly because maybe then he knew how miserable I felt all the times I was sick. He came from a very poor family and had a tough upbringing. He was a smart man, but he had to drop out of school in the eighth grade in order to work and help bring income into the family budget. He and his dad even stood in food lines just to get some crackers with lard. He never gave up though and was always working. If God had put more hours into the week, my dad would've worked those hours as well; that's just part of who he was. My dad wasn't all business though. Coming from a German family, my dad drank beer and he loved it. I do not recall my dad ever being "drunk." He was just more relaxed and cheerful when he drank. As soon as he walked in the door, my mom would hand him a beer bottle; that's just the way life was. When I was 7, we all found Christ...and....shortly thereafter, while my dad was away at work, my mom became convicted about my dad's drinking and smoking (we won't even go into whether she was right or wrong; it's just part of my tale) and dumped all the liquor and tobacco down the toilet. In years gone by, my dad would have been furious and there would have been an all out war, but to everyone's surprise he declared that he guessed God wanted him to give it up. He never smoked again and gave up drinking ... for 25 years. Sadly, he took up his beer again. The Methodist minister where they attended church at that time drank, and if he could, so could my dad. He didn't drink nearly as much as he used to, but he was drinking again and loving it. He loved it so much that as he was about to go into his second open heart surgery, he asked the doctor if it was alright for him to still drink. Unfortunately, it was the death of him. Shortly after taking up drinking again, cancer cells in his liver awoke. The doctors originally gave him six months to live, but my dad was a stubborn man who lived another 7 years. At first, it wasn't that bad; he fought hard to live. We even thought he may actually beat it. He deeply regretted having taken up drinking again though and grieved over seeing young people drink in excess. The last few weeks of my dad's life were pretty horrific for him and those around him. The man who knew no pain, was in constant agonizing pain those final days. He moaned and cried loudly 24/7. It was excruciating for him and for those who watched over him. I prayed for his death and on April 5, 2006 he finally rested. My dad's ashes sit in the bookcase at my mom's house now. He'd still be here if it hadn't been for that cancer. Why do I tell you all this? Because I want you to think more than twice before you drink. I do not have a problem with alcohol in and of itself. It has its proper places in many households, but for a lot of people, it should not even be an option. Many young people declare that they will drink responsibly and not abuse alcohol. Guess what? If you drink and you're underage, you've already been irresponsible and you're already an abuser. If you can't follow the law at this young age, then you've already got a problem. If you say you can drink responsibly, then start by following the law. Is that buzzed feeling you're going for really worth walking down a road that could lead to addiction or your destruction? Is it really worth destroying your testimony by lowering yourself to such a level? Please don't grieve my dad....he suffered enough.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Hope Springs Eternal
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5
As I witness my father’s sluggish passing from the harsh Winter of his sufferings into the newness of Spring’s hope of glory, I find myself longing for the dawn that lies on the other side of this dark night’s watch. For many months now, my father has been in the dark and cold winter season of life. Winter is now drawing to a close for him, but this last leg of his journey is one that, to outside viewers, seems to be solitary and lonely. As Christians and fellow sojourners in this life, we know this is not so. Even as my father gives the impression of no longer being lucid and stares blankly at nothing, I believe he is simply beginning his passage into the Spring of eternity with Christ. This is not a crossing that he makes alone. If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! Psalm 139:8……He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
What a glorious Spring awaits my father on the other side, to be free from the bondage of sin and its effects on our frail human bodies, to truly know and be in the presence of the glory of the Lord, to have his hope realized. How truly beautiful our Lord must be! And what joy will be his as he will finally be able to worship in spirit and in truth! This is what we long for, to finally be able to fulfill our chief end: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. For the common man, Winter is end of his journey, but for those who love the Lord hope springs eternal.
Tuesday April 4, 2006
Today, I am asking you to pray that God would take my father home. He has been more than a week without food or water - he is unable to swallow. He is no longer lucid or able to communicate. He is in constant pain and moans day and night. He has not slept for days. My mother's strength is beginning to fail. The last two statements that my father made were, "I want to go home (heaven)." and "I love you (my mother)." Please pray for grace for my parents during this time. Please ask others to pray.