I know, I know… you’re reading the title of my post and thinking ‘hunny you’re a day late and a dollar short.’ Well, actually I’m about two weeks late, but it has taken me some time to work myself up for writing this.
As you may know, my father died suddenly about 3 1/2 years ago. The thing about experiencing the death of someone close to you is that you expect it to get easier, or maybe less painful as time passes, because that’s what people say, right?
Well, I’m not really sure that statement is true. I don’t think the hole left by that person ever gets filled back in. I don’t think that excruciating pain of loss ever really goes away. For me, I have just learned to live with that pain, while also feeling whatever else is happening in my life at the same time. It’s a hard thing to explain, but most joyful moments for me are lined with the thought, “I wish my dad could be here/see this/know about this.” It doesn’t take away from or diminish the joy or happiness that I feel, but there is just always this little “pang” somewhere in the background.
So, for obvious reasons, father’s day can be a tricky day to navigate for me. That “pang” in the background becomes front and center with commercials and ads about what to get for Dad, Facebook feeds filled with everyone wishing their beloved father a wonderful day, BBQs, and gift giving galore.
It would be easy to get offended at “how insensitive people are” and get upset about all of these things. It would be easy to just say I don’t want to see or talk to anyone today and just sit at home and feel sorry for myself. But honestly, that doesn’t do anyone any good and it only makes you feel worse. There are times to sit down and have a good cry, but for me, this wasn’t one of them. After all Proverbs tells us, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov 17:22).
So, instead of getting down in the dumps because I don’t have my father to celebrate with, I made it a point have a joyful heart and to focus on the men in my life who are either father-figures to me or someone else.
And honestly, that was the best thing I could have done because it made me realize how many truly wonderful men I have in my life and how blessed I am…
For my father-in-law, who does his best every day for his family and has truly adopted me as his daughter and who is always up for our never-ending banter.
For my two older brothers, who have always been like 2nd and 3rd fathers to me growing up and still are to this day.
For my uncles, who have so many similar traits and mannerisms as my father that to be around them is just comforting to me.
For so many other friends, family, and neighbors who have taken me in and just been a good example of a father, whether it was to me or their own child, it made me truly joyful to take inventory of all of these men.
And for last but not least, for my Heavenly Father, who took me in when I believed I didn’t deserve to be saved. Who has shown me so much about love and acceptance and patience…and everything else that is good in the world. I mean, seriously, the list is endless. Without God, I’m not sure where I would be right now. I know my life would definitely look a lot different and definitely not for the better.
But, the thing that truly blessed me and warmed my heart so much that day, that I would have missed out on if I had attended my pity-party at home, was attending a friend’s baptism.
I had never personally attended an adult baptism before. I had only been to the ones with the cute baby in their even cuter little white outfit getting sprinkled with water and usually ending in a couple of tears or screaming. These are special to attend, but, man I could hardly hold it together at my 35 year old friend’s baptism.
There is just something so real and so powerful about someone publicly and in their full knowledge choosing to accept Christ into their life. That is as real as it get folks. I’m tearing up again just thinking about it. And just imagine how happy our Heavenly Father was in that moment, that He got to bring another precious son into His family.
And in that moment, I knew that I would get to spend eternity with my friend.
Just let that sink in for a moment. I know when I really let the reality of that hit me, it seriously took my breath away. It is such a surreal moment when you see someone, who you weren’t sure if they would accept Christ into their lives, do that exact thing, in a public setting and with such joy and conviction.
For me, this is real life. Accepting or not accepting Christ is life or death. It made me go back through my inventory of people I am thankful for and think, “Do I know if they are saved?” For some of them, I know they have accepted Christ, but for others I’m not so sure. And that made me just as sad as my friend’s baptism made me happy. What if I don’t get to spend eternity with some of these people that I love and care about so much?
Now this doesn’t mean I’m going to start passing out fliers at family reunions or knocking down my neighbors doors and shoving Jesus in their face, but it was just such a good reminder for me. So thank you, to my now brother in Christ, for choosing to get baptized and showing your commitment to Christ to others.
Sometimes we all need that little reminder of how real this stuff is. Sometimes we just get so caught up in our own “stuff” that we forget to show Christ to others.
Some people may not know Christ at all or others think that they do, but they have a misunderstanding of him. Or others might think that just being a good person will get you into the kingdom. But from what I read it has nothing to do with us. The ONLY thing we have to do is believe.
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that he was raised from the dead, you will be saved,” (Romans 10:9).
If there is one thing that I learned from my Dad’s death it is that you just never know when the last time is going to be the last time. We don’t get to choose how long we get to live on this earth, but we DO get to choose if we will be on the next one. So the next time you have an opportunity or an open door to plant a little seed about God and Jesus with someone, do it! Take courage. (Trust me, I’m talking to myself as much as anyone else!) Because the next time you do, you might just save someone’s life.