Happy 56th Birthday dad! I just wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the past and let you know how much I appreciate the father you have been to me and my sisters. I look back over the past 28 years of my life and it is full of such powerful memories; some good, some not so good. Even with all the struggles, the memory that is always foremost in my mind is how you cared for us your children despite your busy travelling schedules at work while working for Scripture Union Zambia. Being the only boy in a family of four children, I never felt a sense of emptiness and loneliness because you were always there for me and encouraged me in many ways you may not know.
I know these are the types of things I couldn’t possibly have understood as a child (or a teen), but now that I am approaching the 30s, I find myself in the struggle between family & career, I know how much you must have sacrificed in order to be there for us. As I look back, I know that you were there because you wanted to be there …that is what means the most to me. I know I haven’t always been the easiest to love, but you were still there. I know I wasn’t kind, or appreciative in some ways, or even remotely loveable…but you were still there. I know I wasn’t always respectful, but you were still there. You were there because you are my dad, and that is what “real” dad’s do...they are there always despite the situations or circumstances.
If only I could just fast forward and forget all those years between then and now. If only I could just skip over all the hurt I caused, avoid all the pain that resulted, and just arrive to where we are today. But we can’t, and that’s OK. Each and every one of those experiences has helped shape my full appreciation of you as a father. If there is one thing I have learned in the past few years, it is that if you don’t see the bad news, you’ll never fully appreciate the good news.
|Mum and Dad in 1997|
You see, that perspective is also part of what has caused some dissension between us over the past few months. I finally understand the “bad news” of how I look to the Perfect, Righteous & Holy God. I finally realized that I am not “good” when compared His Holy standard. I used to compare myself to others, and compared to them I do look quite good. I don’t do what “they” do, or I’m not as bad as “them”. But that isn’t how God says it works. We are not going to be judged according to our standard, we are going to be judged according to God’s standard, God’s perfect law.
Hebrews 9:27 says, “it is appointed for men once to die and after this comes judgment”, and when we die we will each be judged. And the result of that judgment is eternal. You see “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23). None of us can possibly be found innocent, we have sinned against an infinitely Perfect God, and His Word is clear that the punishment is an infinite punishment in hell. I finally realized that I deserve to go to Hell. I broke God’s law, and I deserve to be punished. So that is the bad news.
|Family Picture taken in the late 80s|
But here is the Good news. God doesn’t want us to go to hell. God is Love. And how does He demonstrate that love? “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) See, I deserve the punishment of hell. But God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to pay my fine. He didn’t “just” get beaten, bruised, and mocked, die & then rise again defeating death…He took the full wrath of God upon His head so I didn’t have to have it on mine. And He did the same for you.
I thank you dad because you were so patient with me with regards to my salvation, indeed salvation belongs to God. You helped me and also baptized me on 24th September 2000.
|Dad with his mother in Eastern Province (August 2011)|
Dad, here is why I wrote this letter. Life is short, who knows how much more time we have left. I didn’t want to risk another day to go by without me telling you how much I appreciate what you’ve done for me. I don’t want to risk the chance that I would look back after you are gone and say, “I wish I would have told dad how much I loved him.”
I love you dad, thank you for all you’ve done for me. Happy Birthday, and I praise God for giving me such a dedicated dad.