While working on last Sunday's Father's Day sermon, I suddenly missed my dad, with an overwhelmed longing and a sadness that my children did not have the privilege of knowing him (except through my stories.)
Earlier this year, I ran into one of dad's old friends. He said, "You're Andy Wilson's boy, aren't you? You look so much like him!"
When I was young, I don't believe I would have appreciated that comment at all! To me, dad always looked OLD! But, now, I consider it a great honor to bear my father's resemblance. Reflecting back these days, I remember that dad looked happy most of the time. It's not so bad to look like that!!
One 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 rural Wesleyan pastor 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 he should 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, and believed in "disagreeing agreeably."
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 deep love for God and others. I am, indeed, grateful for my godly heritage, and hope, someday, my kids will be able to say something similar about me.