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Dad! Congratulations on your graduation! Sorry this card is so late!
Was your big moment, when you walked across that stage, anything like you thought it would be?
And did you ever think you would finish up so soon?
Though you graduated early, look at all you did while you were in school:
You went through the education required to become ordained and took a position as a pastor, and by that time you were already married with one child, me. (Two more kids came along later.)
You built a church where there was none.
You planted a church where there was none.
You pushed missions.
You directed children's camps with all the sweaty gusto needed.
You were involved with political activism, and refused to curtail your personal Christianity to a Sunday only thing.
As a kid I accompanied you on so many visits--to the homes of shut-ins, to hospitals, to the airport to pick somebody up, and to the hardware store to buy something to fix this or that on the always-breaking-down church bus.
Whether you liked it or not, administration required constant projects, presentations, reports, and lots of homework! I will always remember coming home from school on every April 14th and finding you at the dining room table with stacks of papers around you and the old-fashioned round potato chip containers overflowing with receipts. Oh, how much I enjoyed torturing you with my innocently stated (but oh-so-knowing) question: "Hey, Dad, whatcha doin'?" What I wouldn't give for one of your bear growl-like responses today! For us kids, going with you in our pajamas to wait in the long line of cars for a midnight postmark was always a treat--and we got pretzels!
To work off all those pretzels and your Saltine crackers, you really earned your Phys. Ed. credits! Boy, did you love church softball, and mowing that big church lawn in the middle of the Kansas summers was a REAL workout!
Of course, pastoral counseling was a part of your job, but I also remember the time you spent on the phone with family members and friends, as well, talking them through difficult situations on what was supposed to be your "free time."
You took some tough coursework after your formal education, too. I remember the day you came home from your office at the church and told the family over dinner that a member of the church had come in and confronted you. You didn't repeat any of what he had said, but shook your head in negative wonder and said, "I've never been treated as badly by another human being as I was today."
And then there was the group who had the attitude of "Don't bother us with that term you keep using--what was it again? Oh, yes, 'evangelism.' We are not interested in this 'evangelism,' we are interested in having the best church building around! Let's build a gym!" And the things they said about you! And the way they acted! Out of a sense of protection of you, I can honestly say I'm glad you graduated, rather than staying here and shouldering more of that kind of Godless behavior.
Sure, not every person caught your vision, but so many came to the Lord through your preaching. And how many more were called into the ministry via your example and your leadership?
Hey, Pop, you done good!
And your singing! When you sang a solo before the sermon, sometimes you'd close your eyes and seem to be transported to a different place altogether...
to the place you are now.
When you graduated, did you look up Enoch first, and find out about his unique walk across the stage, from this life into the next?
Did you talk in earnest with Peter and Paul, about the need to reach souls being more important than the need for new carpeting in the lobby?
Did you check out heaven's acoustics by booming out a quartet favorite?
I can imagine you there, singing this old chorus:
"Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine
flooding my soul with glory divine
Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine
Hallelujah, Jesus is mine!"
Dad, I know you are enjoying the heavenly sunshine and the divine glory. You demonstrated while you were still here with us that Jesus was yours, but also, more importantly, you showed how much you were His.
You did it, Dad. You did it summa cum laude.
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Brenda, that's a beautiful tribute! What a special man. And what a legacy you have. Thanks so much for sharing this.