This is the Thirteenth Year Since my Dad has passed–I wrote this letter to friends and family the Christmas after he passed, and I would like to share it again with you all.
Dear Family and Friends, Christmas 2009
This year, my siblings and I lost our Dad. Our mother lost her husband of 52 years. Many of you lost a brother, brother-in-law, uncle, Grandpa, cousin– a friend.
I’ve lived long enough to know that not all Dads were like mine. I was one of the lucky ones. I had a Dad who was involved and committed to his family: he loved his wife, children and grandkids. My Dad wasn’t one of the lucky ones. He overcame a very painful childhood. He wanted things to be different for his own family, and it was— in large part because of his faithful helpmate and soul mate—my dearest mother.
So many of my childhood memories involve my Dad doing things with us, taking us skating, sledding, camping, and swimming. When I was in High School I decided to join the track team– my Dad ran with me every day to get me in shape for the track season. My Dad was a great runner himself, and in many ways I think my Dad was trying to get me ready to run the race of life. We would run, and he would tell me stories, trying to impart his own passion and drive into my approach to running, into my approach to life.
It was my Uncle Jimmy, not my Dad, who told us the story of my Dad running in the State finals. He was the only white runner in the race. The other racers turned to him, and said, “Hey white boy, what are you doing in this race.” My Dad replied with a grin, “You’re about to find out”, and he went on to win the race.”
My brother Patrick summed it up so well, he said Dad has taught us and trained us in so many ways to live life. My brothers got to be with my Dad when he died, and Patrick said that Dad had one more lesson to teach them, he taught them how to die– he wrote the last chapter for them on how a life should be lived.
The biggest lesson my Dad taught me was to never give up. Our sins and failings may bring us down, but they don’t have to keep us down. My Dad was a man of faith; he learned to receive God’s forgiveness and extend it to others. This was not easy for him–sometimes the hardest person he had to forgive was himself.
The night that he died, I sensed my Dad’s presence, and he was so happy. My Dad came to say goodbye. He was finally going home—to his true home, he had finished his race, and he had finished it well.
Whenever I go to a funeral and see the body—I am struck with the fact that all of us are “living souls”. That is what the Bible calls us. It is so apparent to me that the soul of the person has passed on.
God is offering each of us “living souls” an eternal relationship with Him. He wants to give us the gift of His love and forgiveness. This is the true gift of Christmas— “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Romans 6:23 What we have earned is a spiritual death, because we have each sinned against God and each other. Instead of what we have earned, God desires to give us an eternal relationship with Him—Jesus’ death took away the penalty of that spiritual death and replaced it with life. But like any gift—it must be received for it to become truly ours.
In so many ways, my earthly father taught me this. I could never earn the love he freely gave me—but to experience that love, I had to receive it as the gift it was.
On another note–October 21st is my husband’s dad birthday!! I wrote about my husband’s dad in the blog titled September 23, 2013.
The biggest lesson, I have learned from both of these dads–is the lesson of forgiveness and perseverance. They both finished their races in life. They finished well. I think that is so encouraging, as it is a testimony of the faithfulness of God. We can be encouraged by those who have gone before us–for if God was faithful to them, He will be faithful to us!! (Philippians 1:6)
So Be Encouraged!!