Ever since Father’s Day I’ve been thinking about my dad. He went home to the Lord in 1988 at age 75. He grew up during the depression. The oldest of six children, he left school at 16 to help his family financially. He saw all his brothers and sisters finish high school before he left home at 27 to get married. In 1964, a few days before I graduated from high school, my dad did also. I remember how proud he was to walk off that stage with his high school diploma at age 51.
I also remember how angry my father was for so many years. His marriage was difficult; often having to cope with my mother’s mental illness. And he always seemed so tired. My mother could not keep a job so sometimes he worked two to make ends meet.
Then in the mid-70’s my father changed. He met Jesus in a personal experience, and before very long, his anger simply disappeared. Nothing changed in his circumstances, in fact, they got more difficult as my mother aged. Their finances got worse, they lost their house, and at the end he developed pancreatic cancer. All the things that should have increased his anger could not because the Lord of Peace was living in my father’s heart.
In those last years, my dad became known as the one who gave comfort, smiles and hugs to everyone in our church. He helped at Vacation Bible School every summer and the children fell in love with him. At his funeral when the pastor asked if anyone would like to say something about “Papa George,” one little girl said, “when I fell and skinned my knee, he put a Band-Aid on it and hugged me.”
Comfort, smiles, Band-Aids and hugs–and the peace of God. Not a bad legacy for a man. I am sure if Papa George was here, his prayer for us would be that of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:16: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” [NIV]