Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving Thanks for Dad's Legacy of Faith

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4: 12

It will be the first Thanksgiving with one less person around our family table. The patriarch, my dear father, will be sorely missed. Last night, I cried as I gazed at the stars and thought of him at home in heaven now with his Savior. I am sad for me, but am happy for him.

Yesterday, I pulled Dad’s Bible off the shelf in his office. I choked up and felt the tears come as I looked at his precious engineer’s handwriting in that Bible. It is a legacy of faith that can be passed down to the generations that follow. It was like a window into his spiritual life, the invisible part that he shared with God demonstrated by the notes and musings in his Bible. In it he made notations by Bible verses he loved, he had stuffed in the back a couple devotionals and sermon notes. My Dad had a spiritual life. He realized he was here for a purpose bigger than himself. It was the greatest gift he could ever share with us all: his wife and daughters, and our families.

Yesterday marks one month since his tragic accident. But, according to Dad, maybe it wasn’t so tragic after all. He told me we should be happy for the home-going of believers in Jesus. Maybe Dad was telling me it would be OK when he was gone just a few short weeks later. For my own encouragement and help, God put it on his heart to tell me that.

Looking through his Bible is more precious to me than looking at his woodworking pieces or his tractor ribbons. Or looking at the house he built does not compare with looking at Dad’s Bible. I know that if he could see me sitting down here in his office, he might say, “Megan, look at the Bible and ignore all the rest of the 'stuff' of this life. There is One Book, One Person that is important. Everything else is vanity and like grasping the wind.”

Dad has the secret now. He passed on from this vale of tears and would not want to come back no matter how much you paid him. He is with Jesus. Jesus, the One who makes our heart finally to rest, the One who sees all our failures and yet loves us so much.

We have to learn that we are not here for this life and what it offers. We are here for one reason, “That I may know Him…” as the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10. I love how Luke describes the apostle’s experience when they walked on the Road to Emmaus with the Risen Jesus, yet they did not know it was Jesus. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32) Burning hearts, filled with the knowledge of the One True God and His Son Jesus Christ, that is what every soul longs for deep down. The unbeliever just tells lies to himself all his life and say that his life is full without God but deep down in their soul they know it's not true.

I wonder how precious it is now for Dad on the other side of eternity, far beyond the stars I gazed upon last night. As I have learned, all my capacity for eternity is filled only in this life. If we want to know Him here, we will know Him there. If we say, “See ya later, I want to live my own life,” He will sadly, let us live our own life. As we lose our own lives, we find what our hearts are really longing for. It is a great paradox, Jesus tells us to lose our own life. Now that sounds like a very hard and difficult thing to do. But actually, when we find out that Jesus is not a cruel taskmaster but the Lover of our soul, it is not hard. How can it be hard to walk in love? It is much harder to walk in hatred, bitterness, and un-forgiveness.

Dad would agree with all these things now. When I look at a picture of his face, how I long to see him again. But it won’t be long. When I do, there will no more goodbyes, no more tears. Just peace and fellowship around the Lord’s Table forever. What a hope we have in Jesus, and what a Redeemer too. Because He is our Redeemer,the one in whom we must trust, I will see my father’s smiling face again. When I get there, it will like I have been there all along. All our hearts are waiting for resides in that place, and it will just be a “moment,” and I will see him again.

Tomorrow, as we give thanks, I will especially give thanks to God for that.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

An Appointed Time

My late beloved father, John Murphy, on one of his beloved tractors. 1932-2016

To everything under heaven there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, And a time to die.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2a

I have been putting off writing this post. I mean, how could I even begin to convey what a  whirlwind of a month it has been? I feel ten years older and when I look in the mirror, it seems confirmed.

A phone call, a race to the emergency room to a major trauma center, days and nights in the waiting room, listening to the doctor's rounds as the prognosis becomes grimmer and grimmer...and then, making the excruciating decision with my family that according to his wishes we should let him go and not continue to suffer. Finally, after singing, kissing, rubbing his hardworking hand I watched his chest rise one final time and not breathe out. Dad's time under heaven was over, and he was transferred to his heavenly domain.

One minute my Dad was an energetic, even vibrant 84 year old man. The next time I see him, he is telling me he is dying. I said, "Daddy, no you're not," But in my heart, I knew he was right.

In a moment our lives have been turned upside down. I had so much admiration for him and was proud to have been his daughter. His wonderful career as a Professional Engineer, all the accolades for his  pulls, and pristine antique tractor restorations suddenly became unimportant in the light of life and death.

Mom is having trouble comprehending why this happened. If only he had not insisted on going out to hunt for that deer. She tried to tell him not to go, but he went anyway. He didn't mean to fall off the tree stand or to shatter his spine and break just about every rib. Sure, he would not have gone if he knew that was going to happen.

But the Preacher of Ecclesiastes said there is a time for everything under heaven, even a time to die. No one wants to think about our future date with this event, but unless the Lord calls us up in the rapture, we each will have our own individual appointment with this time under heaven.

The most important thing was not that Dad could have avoided falling, but he had made sure that his soul was ready for that appointment, whenever it would come.

In just one single moment of time, Dad placed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, trusted that Christ had paid for his sins and that Christ was the risen and triumphant Son of God.

In that second, Dad had a heavenly hope. Sure, Dad rose from poverty to a life of ease in the life he built for us all in his successful career. But he knew that there was something beyond this life, something beyond having a comfortable life, a life in eternity with the Lord Jesus.

Once, when I was a little girl, Daddy and I talked about salvation and I knew he wanted to talk to his aging mother about his faith. His mother lived far away in a nursing home in Iowa. He stopped there on the way home from a business trip. That night, as we sat on our old red couch together, he suddenly trembled, with tears welling up in his blue eyes and said, "Megan, we shared words about God," and broke down crying. I never felt closer to him in all my life at that point than I did at that moment.  I'd never saw him cry before, my world travelling father with such a demanding career.  I started to cry too as we hugged each other, realizing this life is only a temporary stop on our way to a permanent home in the heavenlies with our Savior. 

He realized what was really important in life. As time wore on, Dad became more and more outspoken in his prayers and sharing with others. In retirement years, he and my Mom started each day with devotions and prayers and he donated generously to the Gideons, knowing the great importance of sharing God's Word with a lost and dying world.

I know that nothing, nothing, would make my Dad happier than knowing even one person would also come to believe in Christ as their Savior as a result of hearing this sad, but hopeful story. Though it was my dear father's own appointed time, if the story of God's free gift of salvation is shouted forth to the world, he and the angels will rejoice.

Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24*

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him who is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17*

(*emphasis mine)