June 21, 2022
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20, NIV).
I had just sat down in church for our Father’s Day service when I received a phone call from a name I did not recognize. When I answered, a woman spoke, “Do you know _____?” I did. He had once been a patient of mine, but I had referred him out for a clinical trial and not cared for him over the last year. “My father is in trouble. I think he is dying, and I can’t get his doctor. I found your name and phone number in his billfold. Can you help me?” I left church, visited their home and did what I could to help. Made it back to church in time to take Communion.
All of us will lose our fathers someday if we don’t meet Jesus first. Given the truth of life and the truth of our faith, this is very hard and yet very okay if they are one in the Lord with us, confident that our long-term future with them is secured.
I know some have never known their fathers, and others have suffered from their fathers—that’s a message for another day, a message of hope, comfort and redemption through Christ. This message is for the most of us who have loved and been loved dearly by our fathers.
When I stood against the living room hospital bed of this sweet man today, I remembered my last day with my father. And then I remembered so many more days, days of fun and wisdom and discipline and love. I remember him as a highly respected physician standing up in restaurants and acting like a monkey to embarrass us—always on vacation where no one knew him. I remember tennis with him at 40 and tennis when he was 90. I remember his switches to the back of my legs that made me a better person. I remember him loving his sweetheart, Mom, with romance and passion that lasted even beyond the day they were rolled past each other in the rehab facility and reached out to touch. I remember him standing in church when they honored him for his 90th birthday and can see him pointing to the sky with that fantastic smile and uttering just one word, “Jesus!” No father is perfect, but I never knew my dad was not, because I never saw the imperfections, or I saw and forgot them as they were overwhelmed by his love.
He was a doctor, so we didn’t see enough of him, but we saw all that God gave us of him, and we were blessed.
I do pray for all whose fathers are gone, and all whose fathers are present, all whose fathers were not as great as mine and all whose fathers were. We need to honor and emulate the good in them, and we need to learn from any bad and become different.
It is fitting that my experience today ended with Communion. For, whatever kind of father we have known and whatever kind of father we might be, all is grace.
Dear Father in heaven,
Thank you for my dad.
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