A Father's Legacy

Sunday, June 19, 2016

father and son
I have been thinking about my Dad a lot lately. He passed away 15 years ago and would have been 84 years old today. He taught me a lot and passed down a spiritual legacy that I am committed to passing on to my son.

My dad was a man of many talents, some well known, but others only known by his children. As he prepared to take us to Bolivia to be missionaries there, he built a camper with his own hands complete with all the comforts of home that he could possibly put into it. We lived in that, 10,000 feet high up in the Andes mountains--with three young children! I have pictures to prove it in case you don't believe me.

He was also a jack of all trades which I think was a requirement to be a pastor in those days. Before the Assemblies of God would ordain you, you had to build a house and rebuild an engine in your living room to qualify. This came in handy later in life because every time we took a family vacation to visit my aunt and uncle, he spent the entire vacation rebuilding the transmission in our family car in my uncle's driveway. A lesser known talent he had was only known to his children. This talent was absolutely necessary with three rambunctious children in the back seat of a car on those long trips. I am not exaggerating when I tell you he could slap three sets of knees in the back seat while driving around a hairpin turn and never cross the center line. He also had the most acute hearing known to man. He could hear the slightest smack of gum, even with the radio turned all the way up. My dad could pass a kidney stone and turn right around and mow the lawn, but he could not stand to hear his children smack their gum.

I'm convinced that my father had the supernatural ability to sense when I had used his power tools without his permission. He could sense it somehow. I was told to NEVER, EVER use his table saw because I could cut my thumb off. Well, one day I was cutting wood with a hand saw when he was gone and thought that it would sure be easier if I cut it with the table saw. I would carefully vacuum up all the saw dust and he would never know. I cut the first board and wondered what all the fuss was about. On my third board my thumb got in the way and hit the blade which threw my arm back. I wondered if I would ever find what was left of my thumb. To my amazement and relief, my thumbnail saved me and by God's grace I escaped with only a nick on my thumb. I immediately remembered that my dad was right! I carefully cleaned up everything and vowed to never do anything like that again. When my parents got home later that day my dad went right down to the work shop and I heard him call my name. I found him standing next to the table saw and he asked me if I had been using his saw. I denied it, but I knew that he knew that wasn't the truth. He left it at that and reminded me of his previous warning. I realized that I forgot one minor detail when I was cleaning up. I didn't clean and sterilize the saw blade so when my dad did forensic testing on the blade, he discovered my DNA there and knew I had used it. He never did punish me. In his fatherly wisdom he probably knew I had probably been through enough mental anguish and had learned my lesson.

There were some other life lessons my dad taught me that I am most thankful to him for. He taught me a love and passion for the Word of God. I learned from him that God's Word is everything. I don't know anyone who knows the Bible like he did. He wrote an entire outlined commentary on the New Testament. It never got published, but I have a set and I have used it many times. He also taught me the importance of a life of prayer. Every morning my mom and dad shut themselves in the bedroom for an entire hour where I could hear them calling out to the Lord in prayer for his children and the members of their congregation. I also learned from him the importance of keeping your word. If my dad said he was going to do something you could count on it. He never went back on his word, ever. That has always impressed me. This was especially true with his faith in God. When things got tough my dad never gave up. My dad suffered from cancer the last year of his life. Cancer changed him in profound ways with one exception--he never wavered in his faith. In fact, it steeled his faith. He told me something the last time I saw him alive that I will never forget and this is his lasting legacy he left me. He told me that everything he had professed about his faith is absolutely true. Even in the darkest moment of his life he said his faith had never let him down. That left me with tremendous hope that no matter what comes my way, God will always see me through.

When I was a young man in my early 20's I vowed to never be like my dad. Now that I'm in my 50's I am honored to be able to say that I have tried to be like him. He wasn't perfect and I've tried to avoid some of the mistakes he made, but I want to be like him because he tried to be like Jesus. I only hope that someday my son can say the same about me.

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