My father was not allowed to leave the house without me. That was my rule–not his. Sure, he could go to work; but after that, I would pile into his mini-Crosley car whenever he attempted to leave the house. I didn’t always get my way; but it wasn’t my fault.
My mother once said that I got a lot more ice cream and Coke than the other children because I wanted to be with my father all the time. As my father was dying, the rest of the family who lived in town hovered around his bedside. Yet, they concluded that Daddy wouldn’t die until I could travel the eight hours required to get there–and he didn’t.
He could make anything. Before he died, he built my mother her dream house. It was two stories; and except for the inside finish work, he build all of it himself. He also made our first set of water skis. As my brother approached his teenage years, Dad decided that skiing would be a good family sport that we could all enjoy. He had a small fishing boat. Because we are all small in statue, he calculated that this boat could pull us fast enough to lift us from the water. He was right.
Daddy found a friend who owned a pair of skis. After examining them, he worked for several weeks to fashion and mold the wood into skis. The next six or seven years were spent on various rivers and lakes skiing. My brother because a champion skier. I didn’t like to fall. Therefore, I did the fancy, skiing that required little or no risk, while my brother did the real hard work of making me look good.
Whatever my father did, he threw himself into it with his whole body, mind and soul. That included his relationship with the Lord. He was about fifty years old before he truly came to know the Lord. Even though we attended church multiple times each week, Dad didn’t have a vital relationship until one day as he was driving home from a wholesale warehouse. He stopped his Volkswagen Beatle at a red light, put his head on the steering wheel and tearfully surrendered to his Heavenly Father as the complete Lord of his life.
From that moment, Daddy wanted to tell everyone about Jesus. He was one of those weirdos who has Jesus quotes painted all over his car. He shared his faith with everyone. If people rejected him, he would laugh and say, “I could be wrong about going to heaven when I die. Possibly, it might be like you say. When we die, there could be nothing out there. But even if I am wrong, I’ve lost nothing. Because I’m having a wonderful life. You, on the other hand, are totally miserable; and if I’m right, you are going to die and go to hell. I think the odds are on my side, don’t you?”
At my father’s funeral, his pastor told the audience a story the family had not heard. When his pastor was a young man in the Navy, Daddy would come up to the bus stop where the workers would congregate to enter the Naval Shipyard. Many mornings, Daddy would approach the group of men clustered on the side walk, shouting, “Good news! Good news!”
There are always a new man who was there and he would ask, “What is it?”
Raising his hands into the air, Daddy would declare, “Jesus loves you and he died for your sins. All you need to do is accept his love and you will be saved.”
His pastor said, “I could never forget what he said. I carried that message all day, every day. Finally, I surrendered to that good news and I came to take the Lord as my Savior.”
The heritage my father left me made it easy for me to understand a loving heavenly Father who delighted in me. One who wanted me to have the best of everything. I knew my heavenly Father would disciple me, when needed but with grief and fairness. I can understand a tough, tender, passionately forgiving Father who freely poured his love out on a silly child who wants to go anywhere, as long as my heavenly Father is going with me.