Today I am celebrating the moment on Sept. 24, 1970 when my church youth group leader came and asked me for probably the 100th time, if I was willing to commit my life to Jesus, and surrender my options to continued self-direction and self-destruction. Because of what had happened to her, I said yes. We prayed together on the steps of the CMA church on a Friday night ’cause that’s where she found this hurting lost sheep. The struggle then went from “Do I choose faith?” to “How do I live out that faith?” Huge step….saved my life.
She had a unique place of credibility to me at that precise moment, having experienced loss of her beautiful 18 month old daughter just two weeks ago in a tragic accident. I watched her in the midst of her struggle and loss and incredible pain as she chose to still turn towards God, and not, in the words of Job’s wife “curse God and die.” If faith in Christ could help sustain her, then maybe, as she had said for so long, and so often, God is greater than we’ll ever know and His love is stronger than we can ever imagine. I also know now, there are some answers to the “why?” questions that we’ll never get. Grace became amazing that day as the journey towards life and hope began.
So, today, I am grateful. I was not always a grateful child. But today, I am grateful to her, and I am grateful to my Dad.
What does this have to do with my Dad? Well, a few years ago, I was asked to come and sing on Father’s Day at the church he had attended for 75 years at that point. I didn’t want to go. This was a setting that held some really mixed blessings in my life, and held some memories I would rather forget, but for Dad I went. And in the doing of the thing, I had one of those moments where the lights came on, and I realized that because my Dad had always taken me to church as a kid, even when he wasn’t sure he wanted to go, even when he wasn’t sure it made any difference, even when he didn’t think I was paying any attention, even when he was tired, or whatever other excuses hardworking grownups can come up with. And even though the church was way imperfect, God’s Word was taught there, and God was present in the prayers of His people. And because of this, there was someone in my life who could offer hope and point the way to faith, even when I might not have been listening to Dad. For this, I am very grateful.