My dad is coming up to his eighty-ninth birthday in September. I was recently going through old photo albums with him looking for pictures of the house where he was born for a blog about life in the Midwest. He was a cutie! He reminded me of my brother when he was small, and I know my dad would consider that to be the greatest compliment.
My father was a doctor. He left for work before I was up in the morning and didn’t get home until supper, but nearly every evening he led our family in worship. We sat on the couch and sang a few hymns from the old Inter-Varsity hymnal.
When my younger brother was small, he shot baskets by the hour. When his growth spurt came too late for the Hoosier cult of basketball, he turned to tennis and cross-country. My dad wanted to hear all about it even when he couldn’t be at the match. He was thrilled to have a son who shared his passion for sport.
My sister and I were heavily involved in music. We both studied voice, sang in the choir and participated in musicals. I lived for my father’s smile, his squeeze on my shoulder and the quiet words, “I am so proud of you.” Those words were to me a taste of what I imagine it will be like to hear the Lord’s, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
For years my father’s passion has been discipling men, training them to be godly husbands, fathers and citizens, true disciples who follow the Lord in every aspect of their lives. He meets regularly with ten men these days. That's on top of the various Bible studies he is a part of. Each man comes individually and sits in the living room with Dad. They open their Bibles, and Dad asks questions, prodding them to think about what the word of God has to say about the practical situations of their lives. Some have brought their teenage sons along to study what it means to be a godly man. Now a couple men are coming to him to be taught how to disciple. The church has even published a manual for discipleship that he put together.
Years ago Dad discipled the husband of the woman who became his wife after his friend and my mother died. Recently my father has been meeting with his grown stepson. The other day my stepmom told me that five-year-old Mario took his Bible to go sit in the living room with his daddy and my dad while they studied. He listened quietly, and when it was time to pray, little Mario prayed too.
Dad, the impact of your commitment to live as God has shown you in his word is being passed down through generations, not only in our family, but in other families, as well. I know without a doubt that when you meet the Lord, he will squeeze your shoulder and say, “Well done.” But before you get there, I want you to hear from me, I am so proud of you.