The first man, a young father in his twenties, talked about the struggles he was facing in fitting everything into his increasingly demanding schedule as he attempts to make his mark in the world. His chief concern, though, was in finding a way to meet all of his obligations, and yet still get home to see his small son before bedtime each night. Quite commendably, he was determined not to let his busy schedule crowd out his wife and child.
The second man, a bit older, talked about the slightly different transition of life he was facing. He was now trying to balance out the demands of raising his own sons with those of caring for his aging parents. Admirably, his concern was to be an effective father while also remaining a devoted and responsible son.
The last man, more my own age, was very excited about having recently had the opportunity to share the gospel with his son, who then accepted Christ as his personal Savior. Needless to say, he was overjoyed.
What none of these men knew as we talked was that it was eleven years ago this week when I lost my own father. He died on January 23, 2000; and was buried two days later on January 25 (exactly eleven years ago today). Obviously, as is the case most every year around this time, all of this has been on my mind. Unbeknown to any of these men, though, my discussions with them and their respective matters of concern have all been helpful to me.
You see, at a time in my life when I might normally be a little sad, God sent these men to help change my perspective. My discussions with them have all reminded me that, while (in this life) I will always miss my father, I nonetheless have a lot for which I can be thankful.
To begin with, my father always made time for me. From my earliest memory, he was there for me. There was hardly a day of my childhood and formative years that he was not involved in my life. He was intentional about this; and I will always be appreciative that he was.
Along the way, he demonstrated for me how a father is to love his son. Yet he also modeled for me how a son is to love his parents. I remember with fondness the respect and honor he showed to my grandparents. As was the case with most lessons, these things were more caught than taught. I learned by his example.
More important than all this, when the time came in my life to explore what it means to have personal faith in Jesus Christ, it was my father who was there for me. It was he who talked with me first; then my pastor.
And because that was his greatest priority, my sadness this day is temporary. It is tempered by the fact that I know where he now is. And I know that I will one day see him again; because where he now is, I will one day be. And I know this because the same Jesus who saved him has also saved me. And the same Jesus who has him over there also has me back here. And He (Jesus) will one day have us both together again for all eternity.
I will always be thankful to the Lord for the three men He sent my way this week. Their ministry to their pastor, even if unintentional, was nonetheless quite timely and effective.