Seventeen years ago today, we buried my father. Sometimes, it still seems like yesterday. Grief has a funny way of popping up in the most unexpected places.
I was working on my Father's Day sermon while travelling by plane three days ago -- and suddenly I missed my dad. I was overwhelmed with a longing for him, and sadness that my children did not know him (except in my stories.)
Earlier this week, I ran into one of dad's old friends. He said, "You're Andy Wilson's boy! You look so much like him!"
When I was younger, I don't think I would have appreciated that comment at all! To me, dad always looked OLD!! But, now, I consider it a great honor to look like father. Reflecting back these days, I remember that dad looked happy and holy. It's not so bad to look like that!!
Late at night, driving home from the airport in a thunderstorm, I found myself reflecting on the formative things my father taught me.
1) Dad Taught Me to Stay Through: He was a country preacher who stayed at the same church for thirty years. Some of those years were difficult. Lesser men would have quit and moved on to greener pastures. Dad, however, was made of stronger mettle. He believed that if we stay through the hard times, the end result will be better.
2) Dad Taught Me to Stay True: He stayed true to my mother. He stayed true to us kids. He stayed true to God. He stayed true to his convictions. He stayed true to his church. One time, during some troubled years in the Wesleyan Church, a large group of ministers led their churches out of the denomination. Many of dad's best friends were in that group. They pressured him to join them -- but my father felt that God wanted him to stay true to the church. I wonder where I would be today, if Dad had followed his friends.
3. Dad Taught Me to Stay Positive: He always said there's a good side to just about everything. Sometimes, you have to look harder than others to find it. He believed that, though we cannot choose our circumstances, we can choose our attitude and the way we respond.
4. Dad Taught Me to Stay Prayed Up: One of the greatest memories I have of my father is his prayer life. He prayed often and spent extended time with the Lord. In recent years, God has developed a much stronger prayer focus in my own life -- and I owe that to my good father who taught me by example.
5. Dad Taught Me to Stay Sweet: Whenever people opposed him, he would simply turn around and bless them. I was amazed at how kind and forgiving he was towards those who mistreated him. Growing up in the parsonage, I never heard him speak negatively about the church. He genuinely loved the people.
6. Dad Taught Me to Stay Spirit Filled: The Holy Spirit was Dad's power source. He believed that unsanctified ministry is impossible. Thus, my father's pastoral service was marked primarily by holy love. I recall, in one of our last conversations, dad reminded me of the great need of a continual re-filling of the Spirit. This has proven helpful many times since.
Dad's life, sermons, and library (which was passed on to me) all reflected holiness unto the Lord. I am, indeed, grateful for my godly heritage, and hope, someday, my kids will be able to say something similar about me.