This will be the 34th Father’s Day that I must celebrate without my dad. There are some days when it seems like only yesterday that he was still standing at the front door looking out over the community. Needless to say, I miss him and often wonder how different my life might have been if he had not died when he was so young.

During those 34 years a lot of other dads that have touched my life have also been called to their eternal home.

My father-in-law died 14 years after I became a part of his family. Bishop Neeley was a part of my life for 10 years before he was called home. My brother-in-law, Barry, was much too young to die, but we lost him almost three years ago. There have been uncles, cousins, friends and acquaintances who also have passed.

Each one of these “dads” was unique and special in his own way. And each one left a legacy behind, knowledge and inspiration that we can still be blessed with today.

From the fathers who touched my life most closely I learned:

— the most important thing in life is to serve God, our heavenly Father. When we close our eyes for that last time in this life, the next time we open them we will be standing in the presence of God Almighty. What we did to serve Him in this life will determine where we spend eternity — in His presence or banished into eternal damnation.

— it’s important to help others. We often think we are too busy to have time for others, and that is probably true. But it’s when we make time for others that we find the greatest blessings, and many times those are the very people who will make time for us in our hour of need.

— how to drive. I don’t think Dad ever thought I would learn how to drive or back into a parking space or how to parallel park. I’m sure he was as surprised as I was when I passed my driving test on the first attempt. And maybe he would be proud to know that I have never received anything more serious than an occasional parking ticket.

— how to pray. God is my heavenly father, and I can speak to Him just as I would my earthly father. I don’t have to use big or fancy words, I don’t have to write out my prayers first so I can use just the right words when I read them to God, and I don’t have to keep repeating the same prayers over and over again. I can just talk to Him in my own natural way, and then listen for His answer. It always comes in His perfect time.

— how to love. I’m not sure who taught me the most about loving others; perhaps it was like the gleaners, gathering a little bit here and a little bit there. But I think the most important thing to know about loving others is to watch them, not like a spy would, but in a way that we really get to know them — their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses. When we know those things, we will know how to love them and how to show them that love. And after all, that’s what the Bible tells us to do, to show our love for others.

— how to work. Maybe the fathers in my life were old-fashioned, but they have all showed me that hard work seldom hurts anyone, and that if anything is worth having, it is worth working for, no matter how long it takes. That philosophy applies to every need in our life — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

There were many other lessons that Dad and all the other fathers in my life taught me, just as your fathers probably taught you. Many of these fathers are now gone, and I will always remember them with a grateful heart for all that they brought into my life.

I am very blessed to have a spiritual father (my beloved Rex) who continues to teach so many lessons, to touch so many lives. I have brothers in the Lord who also teach by their example, not only with the assemblies in their own churches, but with their natural families, too. I am also blessed to have brothers-in-law, nephews, uncles, cousins and friends who give glimpses at what a father should be.

For all the fathers in my life who have passed, I thank the Lord for the time that I did have them in my life and the lessons they taught. For the fathers who are still here, touching my life, my prayer is that the Lord Jesus Christ will bless them according to their works, as He has promised to do.

Happy Father’s Day.

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