I repost this blog about this time every year. Since I'm such a traditional guy, here it is again.
On January 28, 2002 at 9 PM, my dad breathed his last breath and slipped from time into eternity. He was seventy-four years old. He had been in and out of the hospital several times since August of 2001. His tired lungs just stopped working.
He died peacefully because he finally was at peace with God, after a lifetime of resisting the gospel.
His journey to God hit warp speed when his heart stopped on October 11, 2001. The doctors were able to revive him, but more importantly, the Lord visited him. While laying on his back in the emergency room, he came face to face with the God of eternity and lived to tell about it. In fact, he later told my younger brother that when his heart stopped, he had a vision that God was giving him one last chance. In the vision, as he watched the doctors frantically trying to revive him, he suddenly saw a whiskey bottle, a pack of cigarettes, a handgun, and a Bible floating around his lifeless body in the emergency room. He knew he had a choice to make. He told my brother he decided in that moment to choose the Bible rather than the things that were destroying his life.
Three months later, he would face God again, this time forever. But this time, he was ready.
Providentially, I happened to be in New York City ministering in our new church when my brother called saying that I better get on the next plane to Mississippi if I wanted to see Dad alive. While on the plane, I wrote what would be my last words to Dad. I read them at his funeral a few days later.
Here’s what I wrote:
Thanks, Dad, for never missing a baseball game, basketball game, football game, track meet, birthday party, or anything else that mattered as I was growing up.
Thanks for being there for me…
every time I crossed the finish line at a high school track meet,
when I fell through the frozen lake while duck hunting when I was nine,
when Mike Croswell’s easy grounder rolled under my glove at second base, costing us the Little League championship.
You were always there for me, and I’m glad the Lord allowed me to be there when you crossed your final finish line.
Thanks for trusting me, accepting me, and supporting me especially when I…
grew long hair in the ’70s,
quit the football team in tenth grade,
became a pastor rather than your business partner,
moved to the other side of the world to be a missionary.
Thanks for teaching me…
to ride a bike and drive a car,
to throw a baseball and hit a golf ball,
to fly fish and quail hunt,
to work hard and save money,
to write a check and pick a mutual fund,
to be a good boy and a real man,
to be an grateful son and a dedicated father.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you and will see you in a few years.
"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12)