June 18, 2017
This morning in Sunday School, we began working our way through 2 Thessalonians, which has as one of its themes the subject of how the Christian handles persecution and problems. There was a time in my life (many years ago) when I believed that if God were behind something, he would almost magically brush aside all the obstacles to make it happen. I've since learned that often he is behind the problems because it's only through them that we grow. When one's steps are ordered by the Lord, even should there be difficulties (and in God's work, there surely will be), he will always provide a way through. Park church discovered this truth years ago when we were poised on the edge of some new and significant ministries. We had only recently moved into a new building with all the ministry opportunities it made possible. Suddenly, the roof caved in (figuratively speaking; the roof of the new building was just fine). Today, Park is again standing on the verge of some new and significant ministries, which means problems are right around the corner. In 1 Thessalonians, we are reminded that for those serious about God’s work and will, problems are to be expected. Among other things, they are his tools to help mold us more closely into the image of Christ. So, if problems are to be expected, so also is his provision and protection.
Father's Day is here, and it's been good. Worship this morning was Spirit-filled. We have two worship teams which divide up the responsibilities, which means I get to help lead every other week. I play the upright bass, which is more fun than I can explain. In the afternoon, we gathered at our eldest son's for a cookout and celebration of the Day and of our family's June birthdays. Just as we were wrapping it up, the skies let loose with a torrential downpour, which we have sorely needed. I had to wait for a break in the rain to drive my bike home.
Father's Day has for the past five years, been very special to me. Five years ago, I called my dad to wish him a happy Father's Day. Three months before, that wouldn't have happened. He had for years been severely hearing impaired, and phone conversations were impossible. Three months earlier, he had gotten new digital hearing aids through the VA, and it was like watching someone being raised from the dead. Deafness shuts people off from life even more than blindness, because when you can’t hear, you can't participate in conversations. Over the years, we had watched as dad slowly receded from life...until he got those hearing aids.
I called him; we talked; I told him how much I loved him, how much he had taught me, how his example of faith and faithfulness was the foundation of my life. As I said, three months earlier, that conversation never would have happened. He was at their camp with my mother, my brother and sister, and my brother's boys and grandkids, surrounded by those he loved and who loved him.
After talking, he took a nap, and when one of my brother's boys who lived at a distance called to wish him a happy Father's Day, they woke him up, but his words were slurred. They rushed him to the hospital, but on the way, he slipped into a coma from which he never woke up. So why is this day so special? Because on it, he was surrounded by family, and the next thing he knew, he was in the presence of his Heavenly Father. I hadn't known it at the time, but my mother told me a couple months ago that I was the last one on earth to talk with him. What an honor! What a glorious (although at the time, difficult) day it was! I am thankful today for this man who by his life taught me what following Christ is all about. I am thankful for the new ministries being set before us, and I am thankful for worship this morning, where we enter God’s presence in praise and prayer, and unfailingly receive grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the challenge to follow in Christ’s footsteps wherever they may go.