It's that time of year again when I think over all the influential people in my life and I focus on them for my Thanksgiving tribute, and since my focus is going towards The Discipleship Center and away from the core discipleship website, I will continue my tradition of a Thanksgiving tribute on this site.
With the passing of my mother in law, I am realizing that time is of the essence and if I am ever to let those who mean so much to me know, so I had better do it while they are still alive.
By far, the single most important and influential person in my life that I am eternally thankful for is my dad for so many reasons, but I've never told him so.
Not many of my friends or counselees know, but my mom was married for a brief time and divorced before she married my dad. Both me and my brother who is a year younger than me are from my moms first marriage, and fortunately for us, our birth father abandoned us which at that time made it possible for our dad to adopt us. He became a father to us when he didn't have to, and he never once made us feel like we weren't his own children or that we were second best.
My dad was still a fairly young Christian when he came into our life, and I don't ever remember a time when he wasn't studying the Bible or when he wasn't straggling to grow in his Christian faith. at the time, I didn't understand why he was always listening to his bible study tapes, taking notes, and filling out workbooks, but now that I'm older I understand that there was a broken component in most churches, the broken component of discipleship, and that is what he was trying to gain in his life, but without anyone close that he could look to as a spiritual mentor, he relied heavily on the teaching ministry of John MacArthur.
I've seen my dad also struggle to find his place as a husband and a father, sometimes losing that struggle, and sometimes being victorious, but never giving up.
At some point along the way I realized that my dad always tried to give good counsel to us kids, and now I miss being able to rely on that counsel while he is away and I have had to, at times, take up the mantel of the family counselor when he is away and I dread the day when I can't call him up and just put my burdens out in front of him and listen to him evaluate things with me.
I guess the one thing that I appreciated the most about my dad was in his perseverance. I've rarely ever seen my dad quit something and walk away, and never hastily out of frustration leaving things in the lurch for others to clean up. So many times when I thought the things he was involved with were futile and needed to be left behind, he stuck with it to see things through.
The other thing that I appreciated was his confident use of the Bible. I was always amazed at how he would just pull some truth from the Bible at a moments notice when it was needed. Years later, I was talking to some people about computers and it dawned on me that I could talk for hours about computers, but when asked about something spiritual I often drew a blank and had nothing. I started studying the Bible with the same passion I had seen in my father 25 years before that, and I started with the same resources he started with, and before I knew it I was on the front lines fighting for the same truth of the scriptures with the same passion I had seen in my dad.
While growing up, I often said to myself, with the folly of youth, that I was never going to be like my dad when I grow up, but now that I am a man, in my middle age, I see that God gave me my dad as a one of the most valuable and cherished gifts in my life that I will ever have. As I look at my life now, I see so many of my attitudes and responses as having being shaped over time by the example laid out before me by my dad. I often bemoan that I never had anyone to disciple me formally, but as I look back I see the reality is that there was always a strong Christian man in front of me, encouraging me, in the same way as Paul when he said to follow him as he followed Christ. That man was my dad.
Happy Thanksgiving Dad. I hope we still have many Thanksgivings to spend together.