Yesterday marked three years since my dad passed away. Three years of him not being here. Probably the hardest part of him not being here is that his five grandchildren are still growing up and doing so many things…without him. Sometimes it really ticks me off, because it’s not fair. My grandfather was such a big part of my childhood; he was there for everything, even my wedding day. But my own kids, well they got gypped. Twice! (Their other was grandfather suddenly passed away before they even got to school-age) I look at my kids, almost grown now, and I wish so badly that he could see everything they are doing now. I wish that he could watch his oldest granddaughter as she graduates from high school in a couple months, and see her off to college in the fall. I wish he could hear her sing; he was gone by the time her voice had matured into what it is today. I wish he could have seen his oldest grandson, who has spent most of his life clumsily crashing around in one way or another, in a coat-and-tails tuxedo smoothly gliding across the stage with a pretty girl in a ballroom dance. He probably wouldn’t have believed his eyes! I wish he could be there when that same grandson follows the path he chose for himself and enlists in the Marines. A military man himself, I know my dad would have been so proud.
During the long months that he was sick, we prayed…and we prayed…and we prayed. We prayed for complete healing. We prayed for the sickness to be gone. We prayed for him to be able to leave the hospitals and acute care centers that he’d been shuffled back and forth from. We prayed for the miserable and helpless days to be over.
And then on March 23, 2012, it was over.
Now, a nonbeliever might say, “That’s it? He was gone? See I told you God isn’t real.” Even someone who struggles with their faith might see it as God not answering all those countless prayers. But let’s look at it a different way. God DID answer our prayers. My dad WAS healed. The sickness WAS gone. He WAS able to leave the hospitals. And those miserable days WERE over. You might say, “But he died. That wasn’t what you prayed for.” That is true. We prayed for all those things, but in the end we wanted him to be here, with us. I guess if you want to get a little harsh about it, we prayed selfish prayers. Of course, who could blame us? We weren’t ready for him to leave. Yet God understood our humanness. I think He understood our selfish prayers. But the truth is, my dad is now whole again; strong and healthy the way God created him to be, walking the streets of heaven.
However, when Jesus taught us to pray, didn’t He say, “YOUR kingdom come, YOUR will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” He didn’t say Peter’s will, or John’s will. He was speaking of His Father’s will and His will is not the same as ours.
My dad was not perfect. He made mistakes. However, he was a committed Christ-follower his entire life. And while I do not know this for sure, I believe that at some point God told my dad what He wanted him to do. He wanted him to be a servant and my dad did exactly what God asked, even though I suspect he had other plans for himself. He served God, his church, his community, his country and his family until the day came that he could no longer do it. And then God said, “well done,” and took him home.
Couldn’t we say, “hey you know it stinks sometimes that it’s all about YOUR will and we get the short end of the stick down here!” Well, no. We can’t say that. Not if we believe that He is the sovereign One who works all things for OUR good. God sees all the way back to the beginning of time, and all the way to the end of it. He knows what has happened and what is yet to come. He doesn’t need us to further His kingdom, there is nothing that He can’t do Himself. But because He loves us, He has brought us into His plan and He gives us giftings so that we can fulfill what He’s called us to do. We can choose to not follow, and go about our lives as we wish. Or, we can choose to listen to Him and take what He’s given us and bless others with it.
In the days after my dad passed away, my family received countless messages on Facebook and in emails from people whose lives had been touched by him. People who, as kids and teens were headed down the wrong path, and met up with my dad, “the policeman.” But with some tough love, they turned things around, and credited him for helping them do it. After more than three decades of teaching junior high school, former students came forward to tell us how he had always believed in them, and wouldn’t let them give up. I don’t know if he ever really realized the difference he made in people’s lives. But just like him, God had a purpose for each one of them, and if they hadn’t of crossed paths with my dad, they might never have fulfilled that purpose.
There is always a reason when things happen; good and bad. Sometimes we see that reason right away, sometimes it’s not for a few years, and sometimes we won’t know until we are face to face with the Author of our lives. This is where we have to have FAITH. Faith in the God we cannot see. Faith that He loves us unconditionally and works all things for our good. Even when we shake our fists at the heavens and the tears fall down our cheeks, we must keep the faith.
Because God is always there. He hears every word. He sees every tear. And He answers every prayer. Trust Him.
Céad míle beannachta.
(One hundred thousand blessings)