Three YearsPosted: February 21, 2012
In many ways, it seems like yesterday. In others, it seems like it was 100 years ago. Sometimes, it seems like it’s not even real. Still.
Three years ago today, my Dad passed from this life and into eternity with Jesus. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him, miss him terribly, and wish so much to talk with him.
A friend counseled me after my Dad died that I’ll never truly “get over” losing my Dad. Life just has a new reality and times of sorrow and grieving will pop up randomly. He was right.
But, those times of grieving and sorrow are not a dead end. They are an invitation.
In May 2000, my Dad’s life and our family’s life changed forever. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer and given a very minimal chance of beating it. Of course, our initial reaction was absolute devastation. I feared for how my Dad would respond. My greatest fear was that he would get so angry at God that he would just give up.
The opposite happened. For the first time in his life, something was wrong that he couldn’t fix. He knew very well he couldn’t fix it. And it wasn’t just cancer.
For the first time in my life, I heard my Dad confess that he was helpless – helpless to fix his body and helpless to cover his sin. Rather than turning away in anger, my Dad turned to Jesus in humility and brokenness. God saved and healed my Dad spiritually. And then He healed him physically.
In May 2001, my Dad was cancer free. New life spiritually and new life physically. God gave us 8 more wonderful years with my Dad. In so many ways, God compressed the wasted previous years and opportunities of my Dad’s life and gave him the opportunity to make things right. That was the theme of 2001-2009 – making things right.
I saw my Dad love and serve my Mom like I never had before. For the first time in my life, I knew I had his love and support no matter what. My Dad became my trusted mentor and friend. It wasn’t always perfect because he and I are very different. But, I grew to love and respect my Dad deeply.
I saw my Dad love and enjoy his granddaughters. I got to shake his hand and receive his congratulations when our two oldest daughters were born. A Dad congratulating his son who just became a Dad…priceless.
I saw my Dad love others he had struggled to love. I saw him forgive others he had struggled to forgive. I saw him seek out old friends to make restitution. I saw him enjoy life, work, and rest. New life was flowing into and through him.
Three years ago on this day, my Mom and I held my Dad, surrounded by our family, while he breathed his last breath on this earth. Cancer had returned and his body was spent. As he took his final breaths, I had this vivid picture of what was next for my Dad. No more cancer. No more suffering. No more hospitals. No more tests. No more medication.
Jesus crushed death, cancer, Satan, and sin for my Dad. Death lost it sting. God’s grace won.
I had the high honor of preaching my Dad’s funeral. It was and will be the highest honor of my life because I got to brag on the immeasurable riches of the grace and mercy of God evidenced in my Dad’s life (Ephesians 2:1-10). I got to preach my Dad’s funeral as his son, friend, and brother in Christ. Only God!
I would have never picked cancer as God’s means of humbling my Dad. But I thank God that He does in fact work together all things…ALL things…for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory (Romans 8:28).
So, there is definitely sadness today. Tears have filled my eyes the entire time I’ve been writing this post. But, right behind the sadness is true joy.
While I grieve the three year anniversary of losing my Dad, I celebrate the three year anniversary of my Dad being with Jesus. I can’t wait to join him.