‘The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.’ 1 Thes 5:24
This Father’s Day is especially poignant for me as just days ago we received news that my dad has an inoperable heart condition and he was given 12-18 months or possibly much less time. This sad turn of events has really set me thinking about my dad and the man he has always been in my life.
We are often told that our relationship with our biological fathers has a great impact on our eternal Father. So what do we need from our Heavenly Father? For each of us that’s different. For some it’s a tangible sense of His presence. For other’s it’s the surety of His sovereignty, His power to forgive. All of us need His grace and for me, I need to know He is constant.
I’m a military wife. We move a lot. In 12 years of marriage we have packed up four times, three of those trans-atlantic moves and two of those while quite pregnant. There’s always change in our life together. We are either settling in or preparing to move. So constancy is a big deal to me. My Lord is my foundation. When everything else shifts, having the Lord be the same means everything; comfort, strength, security, certainty. So if that’s what I need in my Heavenly Father, I lucked out here in the mortal realm. My dad has been a faithful man for as long as I can remember.
David Thomas Evans, born in the mining valleys of south Wales gave his life to Jesus at a Billy Graham rally years before I was born. He has always been a private man and so didn’t particularly share his faith at home. I don’t recall him leading family prayers or reading the Bible with me, but he studied the word hard and became a lay preacher in the Methodist church. He was faithful to the call. He was stood next to me when I too gave my heart to Jesus, at a Billy Graham rally in 1984. I often accompanied him when he was preaching and as my faith grew he was a great answerer of my many questions. Then came the youth-group worship band era. I lost count of how many rehearsals and gigs he patiently drove me to and then sat through, never once complaining. He was faithful to my walk with the Lord.
In the summer of 1992 my dad had a massive, life-altering stroke. Gone was the walking unaided and the talking, so gone was the driving and the preaching. Instead of settling in to a life of bitterness, he fought for every ounce of independence possible. I saw him learn to tie shoelaces one handed, cut steak one handed and communicate slowly but clearly. And he never complained. Not once. No shaking fists in anger or asking ‘why me Lord?’ My dad trusts Jesus, and carried on worshipping as fully as his broken body would allow. He was faithful in sickness. At my wedding in 2004 he gave the traditional father-of-the-bride speech and was word perfect. My mother told me they had written it together and he had practiced every afternoon for three months. Every bride wants to be remembered for looking radiant. Most people barely recall I was there. They comment on how marvelous my dad’s speech was, and I’m ok with that. Well, mostly ok. He has been a faithful father.
His initial prognosis after the stroke was eleven years of life, but my mom had other ideas and so after about 20 years he started to slow down. Everything began to be a little more effort, but still every Sunday he was in church after motoring there in his wheelchair. After a prolonged spell in hospital left him much weaker, he missed services for four months. We were with him when he finally made it back – it was Christmas morning and the congregation cheered. Not many eyes were dry that day. He was faithful even when it was very hard.
And now after 24 years and just weeks before they celebrate 60 years of marriage, my parents sat in a hospital room and discussed DNRs. The leaky valve in his heart can’t be fixed – he’s too old and frail. So now it will slowly tire and then one day, stop. He was able to tell my mom that he doesn’t want to be resuscitated. He’s not scared to go home. His parents, five siblings, his only son and one grandbaby are all waiting. He is trusting Jesus to have sovereign hold of the number of days. In Psalm 56:8 David reminds us that the Lord numbers our wanderings. It seems my dad is faithful with every aspect of his life, including the end of it.
So as we celebrate Father’s Day, I am thankful that I can celebrate my earthly father being full of faith and so being a constant reminder that my eternal Father is faithful. He is unwavering in the center of the storm when the phone rings at 3:30am with the worst news. He’s there when I’m worn out from parenting two little girls, (even though they’re practically perfect). He’s beside me when I open the Word and look for meaning, and when I’m worshipping, in that moment when I can’t help but raise my hands and eyes to Heaven, I believe He is smiling. I may well be missing one dad by the time another Father’s Day rolls around, and if that’s the case I will rejoice that he is whole again and reunited with so many saints and in the arms of his Lord and savior.
And I’ll allow the faithfulness of my Heavenly Father to remind me of how full of faith my dad was.