The living room was filled with guests, the mood was somber. Usually the family only got together during holidays or family reunions. Today was a reunion of another sort, today we were gathered to say goodbye to one of the family. Not just anyone either. As I scanned the faces sitting around the living room and spilling into the foyer I wondered how much different a funeral would be for some of us gathered here. I tried not to be too crass and sarcastic as I considered some whose passing might not be mourned inwardly as much as it was mourned outwardly. Few would be missed the way our guest of honor was. Today we gathered to mourn the passing of the patriarch of our family, my father.
My father was no saint, but he loved us, he cherished us, he taught us, and he accepted us. In a diverse family it was hard to comprehend a man who set such a black and white standard for himself and yet offered such grace and mercy to all others. The main thing he taught me was to look for the miracles God brought us every day and to observe the wonders of the world He created. My son walked up to me and asked with a worried scowl, “Dad, have you lost the wonder?”
Where is the wonder when the heart of your family, your earthly foundation, has been ripped out? Where are the miracles when the man you have always relied on, turned to, and respected is lost to you? Then I remembered what dad would always ask me when I was struggling, “Have you lost the wonder son?”
Lost the wonder? Those three words flooded me with memories. My father would slip that into our conversation whenever I was going through hard times. No matter how bad things were he always got around to asking, “Have you lost the wonder?” I always knew what he was talking about.
The time it really took root in me was while I was going to college for engineering my father, also an engineer, called me aside one day. “How do you like engineering?”
“I love it dad. I feel like I’m learning how things work not just how to work things. It’s exhilarating.”
“Have you gotten too smart for God?”
“Of course not!” I replied immediately but inside I had been questioning my faith. The flood of science and logic seemed to indicate that man and the mind were the answer. Religion was unnecessary.
“That’s good there was a time when I thought I was too educated for Him. I started to lose the wonder of His creation and replaced it with the wonder of man’s. But man’s creation pales in comparison to His.”
“How do you mean dad?”
“Man can study nature but never understand it. We can watch the night sky and think wow but we can never really comprehend it. We have to create new measurements to make the distances seem shorter. Even with the lowly atom we find we are creating all new sciences just to explain what we don’t understand. From the largest to the smallest we can’t truly understand we can only wonder, we can only say ‘wow’: the Grand Canyon – wow, the Great Barrier Reef – wow. And don’t forget to contemplate His gift of salvation. Forgiveness vs. law, love vs. tolerance, nothing man has created has ever compared to any segment of God’s creation. Nothing man loses can compare to what God lost for us. “ The memory of that conversation never seemed to fade, another wow in my life.
Looking around the room I noticed my son watching me; I saw all those gathered to say goodbye to my father. Then I saw my father’s old worn NIV Bible open. I wandered over to it and it was open to the 19th Psalm which begins “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.
My mother, from behind me, said, “He told me, before passing, to leave the Bible open there, he said he thought you might need it.”
My father had restored my faith so many times by restoring the wonder of God’s glory. Now I saw that I needed to pass that legacy on. Turning to my son I said, “No son I have not lost the wonder, I can’t, it is grandpa’s greatest gift to me.”
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