It has been 3 years, 2 months and 16 days since my Dad died. In some instances it seems like it was just yesterday that I saw him. Like I just got off the phone with him from our weekly Sunday night phone calls. In other instances it seems like an insurmountable, astronomical, and painfully long amount of time. I don’t think the pain of losing someone you love ever really goes away, you just learn how to cope with it, how to manage the hole created by their absence that will never be filled.
Last week Kenny and I were out with some of the volunteers we had spent time with after a week long adaptive ski camp. I got to chatting with one person in particular about our histories; where did you grow up, what school did you attend, how many siblings, yadda, yadda, yadda. As always, when I talk about my past, my dad came up. He was a crucial part of my upbringing and will always remain a part of who I am. Anyway, this person, did not know that my dad had died, and was very taken aback at how easily I spoke about him. And he asked me how I do it? Don’t you miss him? Isn’t it hard?
My response to questions like that usually goes something like:
Oh course it’s hard. Of course I miss him. Just about every day there is something that comes up that I want to ask him or tell him about or think to myself, ‘What would Dad think about this?’ I had an amazing Dad for 26 years of my life. Is 26 years long enough? No! But, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will see him again.
This is always the part that gets interesting reactions. Some people, who are already believers, smile and nod their heads. Others, who are skeptics, give the half smile, raise their eyebrows and shoulders, and say something like I hope you’re right. And then lastly, you get the non-believers who just kind of look at you like you’re crazy and don’t really respond, or quickly change the subject.
The person I was talking to fell into category #2 – The skeptic. He wants to believe, grew up believing, but is now full of questions and doubts. I want to warn you readers, this isn’t the “we had an hour long conversation, I answered all his questions, and got him born again” type of ending. Maybe it could have been, but I don’t think so. We talked a little bit about his doubts and fears, and I shared a little bit about why I believe so strongly, and that was that. We went on to talk about other things.
Maybe I could have pushed it more, maybe I could have pried and asked him to dig deeper, but that’s not how I normally operate. I’m not a “push my beliefs on you until you believe what I believe” type. I am always willing to share and to answer questions, but there is a time and a place for being “pushy”, and this wasn’t it….
Now you might be thinking, WAIT aren’t we supposed to be spreading the gospel – the good news that Christ sacrificed his life for you and me? Aren’t we supposed to be getting people “born again” so they become part of God’s family and will inherit the kingdom of heaven? The answer is yes we are.
Is it our obligation to share the word of God – yes.
Is it our obligation to make people believe – no.
It is our duty to point people toward Jesus and his love. It is our duty to be the light in the world and help others in times of need. It is our duty to plant the seeds in people’s hearts – just as I believe I planted a seed that night – but then we have to let God step in and do his work. Just as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor 3:7).
God is the one who is going to change people’s hearts. God is the one who is going to be there for them. God is the one who will be their Father. We can plant the seeds, or get the wheels turning, or point them in the right direction, use whichever catch phrase you like, but it is God who is going to do the saving.
So, my point in telling you about this conversation I had is that it doesn’t always have to be some big epiphany or conversion when you are planting seeds about God and Jesus Christ to someone. Look at how Jesus operated when he was alive. He got deeply involved in people’s lives. He chose 12, but had many other devoted followers, who he got to know on a personal and deep level. He ate with them, he traveled with them, he taught them, he answered their questions, he was there when their loved ones were sick or had died. The point is he was there in their everyday lives.
Yes, he also taught to multitudes and healed people he had never met before. He did both. He relied on God to tell him what people’s needs were and what they needed to hear. Some people that we come across only need a little nudge from us and BAM they are believers. But, others are going to take time. It is going to be a journey, a process, a gentle walk beside them that is going to lead them to Christ.
I can use the tragedy of my father’s death and turn it into something so joyful! By telling others about the promise I have from God and the absolute joy I will have when I get to see my father again. So don’t be afraid to get involved and get personal with people. Don’t be afraid to scatter seeds, because you never know when God is going to make that seed grow into a mighty plant!