Thursday, June 12, 2014

Father's Day--A Time to Remember

 photo by unciepal/ flickr
We gathered from all over. We came to say goodbye to an old friend. For three years he had suffered and struggled. And now that his battle was finally over we gathered for his funeral.

The little church where he worshipped was packed with friends and loved ones. In the middle of the service his red-headed son moved to the pulpit. He took from his inside pocket a folded piece of paper, unfolded it, and began to read. "Man, he said, "would my father get a kick out of this. Me standing in a pulpit..."

The son told us that on the day he left home for the service twenty years ago, his father handed him a brand new briefcase. Inside was a handwritten note that read: "Dear Son, I wish you Godspeed. Always remember God's grace is sufficient. Love, Daddy."

Only as his father lay dying did the Father confess to his son that the day he left home had been the hardest day of his life. He told him that he was so upset that he couldn't go to work--and he never missed work. The boy confessed that he had cried all the way home to California.

But on that day of saying good-bye the son remembered a gift and a note. He remembered that his father loved him wherever he went and whatever he did. He also remembered that benediction the father had tucked away in his new briefcase. "God's grace is sufficient."

The tall handsome man standing behind the pulpit reminded all of us that gathered for the funeral that he had found his father's words to be true. He told us there had been hard times and disappointments, heartbreak and dead-end streets. But he reminded us that his father's words kept coming back when he most needed them: "God's grace is sufficient." The boy had stitched these words into his own life's experiences and found them to be true.

I have often wondered what words I have given my own two redheads. What father-to-child advice have I indirectly, and sometimes, directly given along the way?

Despite my failures as a father, I hope they know they are loved with a fierce love that I will carry all the way to the end. I hope they know how very proud I am of who they are. I hope they know the great joy they have brought me. A joy I cannot even imagine being without.  And I hope they also know there is embedded at the heart of life itself a grace that is not only amazing, as the old song goes. But that same grace will be sufficient at every turn. On this Father's Day--this is my hope. 

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