Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Tribute to My Dad

As some of you know, my dad was admitted to the hospital on February 21 of this year and never got to come back to his earthly home to be with my mom.  Initially, he was admitted to the hospital for an infection in his toe, and while in the ambulance, suffered from a heart attack.  When he arrived at the hospital, they proceeded to treat the most significant illness, his heart, then from there treat the infection in his toe.  My dad had several different health issues and when the medical staff would treat one symptom or diagnosis, that treatment would cause a problem somewhere else, and so on.  This cycle continued until Monday of last week when he went into cardiac arrest, ultimately causing his death.

My dad was a very special man, loyal to God, his family, church, friends, and business clients.  He was tired and ready to go home to be with His Lord and Savior.  My brothers and I were given the honor of speaking on his behalf, sharing the legacy that he left behind, at his funeral last weekend.  I would like to share the eulogy that I wrote for my dad and shared with the congregation on Saturday.  It was a packed house; my dad impacted and influenced the lives of many people.  I added and changed a few words in some places to help it make sense to everyone.

     I wish there were words in my limited vocabulary to accurately describe my dad and what he meant to our family.  But, as you know, words are never enough to paint a complete picture of a real life, someone who lived and breathed and moved.  What an honor it is for me to be able to stand here and speak of him this way.  We are here to celebrate my dad's life on this side of eternity and now his triumph over death through Jesus Christ in heaven, joining in the ultimate worship celebration of our King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the one true God.  I wonder if it is a contemporary or traditional service, a subject we often discussed.  I know that if it is contemporary, boy was he thrown for a loop!  But, I can see him anyway, right now, raising his hands in praise and bowing on his knees before the Lord, his Maker and Redeemer.  For those of you who know my dad and his worship style, that picture should put a smile on your face.  He is holding nothing back in worship now.  He and I definitely worshiped our Lord differently, but either way, we shared a common love and life in our Savior Jesus Christ Who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" and "no one comes to the Father except through Him" (John 14:6).  He is the only way we get to spend eternity in heaven, which is why we can celebrate today, because that is where my Dad is--he has received the prize that was set forth before him.

     In the last few months, Dad seemed to look forward to our conversations about the Bible and our walks with Christ, what He was teaching each one of us, both of knowing that we were not perfect and had a lot of growing to do.  I was able to fast and pray fervently for my dad while he was sick and then able to share the insight God gave me about one of His Names, Adonai--the assurance that God is our Master, we are not our own, we were bought at a price and He, our loving Father, holds us right in the palm of His hand, no matter what trial we are facing or enduring.  I was able to see his face light up and tears fill his eyes because of the Word God shared with me.  As always, God's Word encouraged him and lifted him up at just the right moment.

     When I reflect on my dad and memories of him, the one attribute that stands out over all the others, that overshadows everything else, is LOVE.  The Bible, in 1 Corinthians 13, describes my dad--it gives a definition of love, which was always the motivation behind everything my dad did and said.  I can easily replace the words "love" and "it" in this passage with "my dad."  The Word reads, "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."

     Growing up with my dad was wonderful--not perfect, but wonderful.  There were plenty of times he embarrassed me on the sidelines of my soccer games, yelling at the referees instead of cheering me on.  I don't just mean yelling at the referee, but hackling him, even being thrown out of a few games.  Oh, the horror for THAT parent to be mine.  One game, I even yelled up to the stands, "Shut up, Dad!"  I had tuned him out long enough and couldn't take it any more.  That stopped him for all of about 30 seconds before he was right back at it.  I'm not even sure he heard me.  That's how passionate he was about things he was interested in.

     Dad imparted his love for singing to me, even though I am horrible at it, and taught me how to say hallelujah while he drove me to the babysitter's every morning--he always loved to retell those memories.  I looked forward to him coming home from work at night so he could play a board game with me.  He was the voice of reason in my life and the comic relief in our family.  He taught me a lot of life lessons, far beyond these, and always supported me with unconditional and faithful love.

     One of my favorite memories of him were the times he was in charge of supper.  This is funny if you know both of my parents because they were completely opposite.  My mom is the rule following, everything in life needs to fit in a box, it is black and white with no gray, hands and 10 and 2 while driving.  My dad, on the other hand, was Mr. Go-With-the-Flow, one handed driver, laid back knowing that everything would take care of itself.  One of the rules my mom always followed was our nightly menu, which consisted of a meat, two vegetables (one always being green), and a salad or fruit.  Well, Dad only knew how to cook two things: grilled cheese sandwiches and scrambled eggs--there was nothing green nor any vegetables in that meal.  So, when Mom was out, that's what we ate and we didn't tell Mom at all.  It was like we were breaking the cardinal rule of our household.

     Finally and most importantly, my dad always leaned on the Lord, and even more so in his last days. I believe that Psalm 18:1-6 accurately describes the relationship my dad shared with the Lord, one that was eternal and steadfast.  It reads:

                   I love you, O Lord, my strength.

                  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take       refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
                  I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.

                  The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
                  The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
                  In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. 
                  From his temple he heard my voice;  my cry came before him, into his ears.

My dad always knew the Lord could hear him and could save him and would in His perfect time.  He always knew he could count on his God.

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