(I originally wrote this piece in 2009 and thought I’d republish it today in honor of Father’s Day.)
I attended a funeral of a man today who passed away in his sleep last Wednesday. His five children officiated at the funeral service. Each one shared with the guests how their dad loved the Lord, their mother, them, and others deeply and sacrificially. Many tears were shed, and many joyful memories retold.
This man had five children—four boys and a girl—all of whom are happily married and walking with Jesus because of their dad’s example. Additionally, this man left 21 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, all of whom either know Jesus or are seeing their parents demonstrate how a Christ-follower lives. His kids and their spouses all love each other and enjoy spending time with each other—a rare phenomenon these days.
The man passionately loved people. In his eleven-year tenure as credit manager of a large metropolitan hospital, he led countless patients, their loved ones, and his co-workers to living faith in Jesus Christ. As an accomplished musician and entertainer, he offered free concerts annually to benefit the hospital.
Later in life, this man became a pastor in a small rural town in Idaho (population 186). During the fourteen years he served there, he held weekly services in three nursing homes in towns nearby. He sang, preached, visited with, and prayed for the residents. His wife kept track of all those who gave their lives to Christ during those weekly visits—over 450 in fourteen years!
In that small town, he knew and called on every family. He also served the community as an emergency medical technician and volunteer fireman. Many in that town came to know Christ through this man’s life and witness. His church swelled to over 100, more than half the town’s population.
One of the most remarkable characteristics of this man was his undying love for his wife. Just a few years into their marriage, he gave up a blossoming career out of love for his wife. He never looked back, and he never held her responsible for his loss. She meant more to him than any career could possibly offer. When she contracted ovarian cancer, he set everything else aside to nurse her and keep her company.
He loved his wife faithfully, tenderly, and strongly until she passed in 1991. Even before her death, he would longingly speak of Christ’s return. And now that his wife had gone home to be with the Lord, he spoke with even greater yearning to be with the Lord and be reunited with his wife. Because this was his deepest desire, it was fitting that he passed away on the 60th anniversary of the day that he and his wife had met. What a joyous reunion and homecoming that must have been with Jesus and his wife last Wednesday!
I want to live and love largely as this man did, for he was my dad. Thank you, Dad, for being such a godly example to us kids! We love you and miss you!