My Dad

My biological father and mother raised me from the time of my birth until they died.  I say this because I am now aware that some children are raised by people other than their biological parents.  My family situation was simple and traditional.

Dad was born in 1913 in Northwest Ohio, lived through the Great Depression, worked for the United States Postal Service as a young man, was drafted into the United States Army in 1942, and served in the Army postal services until World War II ended.  My Dad and Mom met in Denver, Colorado, USA, in 1942 while Dad was in Army basic training, and they were married soon thereafter.

After the war my sister and I were born, and our family moved to Denver, Colorado, USA, so my dad could attend law school at the University of Denver.  He received his diploma, and our family moved back to Northwest Ohio, USA.

Dad began to "practice law", which means that he provided legal services to his family, friends, and members of our small town community.  His main focus was to serve 'regular people', whom he felt were neglected generally by the legal service community.

We attended a local mainline Protestant church, and Dad served on the church board of trustees.

Dad also was a member of the men's volunteer service organization called Rotary International.

Dad taught me to play baseball, to whittle sticks, and various other essential skills that young boys in the 1950s and 1960s found interesting.  He taught me to respect and to protect my Mom and sister and other people.

I eventually graduated from college with a B.S. degree in technology, and worked for several years in a manufacturing company.  After three years of this vocation I began to think that there was more to life than making machines run correctly.  I shared these thoughts with Dad, and he suggested that a career in legal services as a lawyer which had given him much satisfaction might be right for me as well.

I eventually graduated from law school, took the Bar Examination, and joined Dad as his junior partner as a lawyer.  At the end of my second year of law school I became a born-again Christian, and brought that spiritual perspective into the practice of law.  Dad did not particularly want to hear about my spiritual beliefs, and I respected his preferences on that subject.

Then in 1987 dad was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He had developed lung problems in the late 1940s while in the Army, and apparently these problems eventually developed into cancer.  So Dad was a recipient of chemotherapy to treat the lung cancer.  He was sure that his oncologist and he were going to 'beat the cancer', but after a year the cancer had spread, and he received his terminal diagnosis.

So, on a Friday evening in April, 1988, I went to the hospital to visit dad.  I had not heard the new terminal diagnosis at that time.  I arrived at Dad's hospital room, and found Mom and Dad together.  When I entered his hospital room Dad didn't say 'Hello" or anything, he said "I want  you to tell me how to become a born-again Christian!"

I was shocked!  This was the guy who didn't want to hear anything about Jesus, and here he was asking me the central question of life as I knew it!  In spite of my shocked condition I was able to say, "It's basically two prayers.  First, 'God, have mercy on me, the sinner.'  And second, 'Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and be my Savior and the Lord of my life.'

Dad and Mom both responded with the same question:  "We have been water baptized.  Doesn't that count?"  In response a verse of Scripture came to my mind.  Mark 16:16  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  So I quoted that verse to them, and suggested that if a person gets water baptized without believing in Jesus, then that person just got wet, but not saved.

Neither of them responded by saying, 'Let's pray!', so the thought came to me that I am only the reporter, and the Holy Spirit is the convincer, so He would just have to let what I said marinate their hearts.

Two weeks later I received a phone call from Dad's Osteopathic Physician, Dr. Jones.  Dr. Jones informed me that my Dad was in his office, and that Dad had something he wanted to say to me.  So Dr. Jones passed the telephone to Dad, and Dad told me that Dr. Jones had just told him something that Dad had never heard before.  Dr. Jones told Dad that God had picked a day for Dad to be saved, and today was the day!  Dr. Jones then explained that this is because no one is guaranteed to live until tomorrow, especially if they have exhausted their chemotherapy drugs!

So Dad said, "I know that you and Dr. Jones have been praying for me for a long time, and I wanted both of you to be the first to hear my prayers."  Then I heard dad cover the telephone receiver and ask Dr. Jones 'What are those two prayers?"

Then Dad rotely recited "God, have mercy on me, the sinner", and "Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and be my Savior and Lord."  Then Dad exclaimed, "Well, praise the Lord!"

I suspected that a ton of sins had just lifted off of Dad's shoulders just as they had lifted off of me twelve years previously.  We don't realize the weight of sins we carry until we are set free from them.  As the saying goes, 'Been there, done that!'

From that point of time onward Dad was too weak to talk to me, although I did offer to water baptize him by sprinkling him on his sick bed, which he gladly accepted.  But the next day my Mom took me aside and told me, "I don't understand all this born-again Christian stuff, but I know that your Dad slept like a baby last night and told me this morning that he was no longer afraid to die because he knew that he was now 'in good hands'.

Dad passed on two weeks later in his sleep.

I write all of this for several reasons:

First, people change their minds about spiritual matters when they are faced with imminent death.  My speculation is that when Dad was faced with eternity he realized that being a good churchman and a good Rotarian were not going to gain him entrance into heaven.

Second, we don't have to pester people with our views about spiritual matters.  The only prayer I had confidence to pray for Dad and Mom was, "Lord Jesus, please prolong their lives until their souls are safe in You!" 

And third, God seems to like to use tag teams to touch people hearts.

Remember, today is the day of salvation!  If you are already saved from your sins, great!  But if you are not sure, I suggest that you talk to Jesus about your condition. 

For example, on my 'day of desperation' I was first told that my whole life was one big sin because we all live for ourselves and not really for God.  I later found that nugget of truth in The Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:15.  Then it was suggested to me that I 'have a little talk with Jesus'.  This was my 'little talk':  "Okay Lord Jesus, if You are really there somewhere, here is the mess that I have made of my life.  If You can do anything with it please take a shot!  Just don't give me any more dead religion!"  When nothing happened, my friend who was telling me about spiritual reality suggested that since I was talking to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords I should be on my knees.  That sounded reasonable and I was too desperate to object, so I knelt down.  The moment my knees touched the floor twenty-six years of tears were released, and when I was finally able to struggle to my feet I discovered that the whole world had changed!  That was when my adventures with Jesus began, and I have never regretted the changes that occurred on that day in May, 1976!