Dealing with the Loss of My Father

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yankeeMy blog has been mostly silent for a while because of several things going on in my life.  I had to place something on hold so I could deal with these challenges.  One of those challenges has been the loss of both of my parents.  First my mom back in January and now my father a few days ago.  Both of them led long, full and rewarding lives.  My mom lived to be 89 and my dad died just short of his 98th birthday.  I am thankful that my dad did not have to go through the long and agonizing death that my mom had to endure.  My mom’s process spanned many weeks while my dad’s was just a few minutes short of 3 hours.  At 97, his death was expected in the near future, but unexpected that particular day.  It was supposed to be just a routine follow-up doctor visit… until he quit breathing the first time and then came back.  The ambulance was called, we were messaged that he was dying and 2 hours and 48 minutes later, he was gone.  I am thankful that my brother was the one who took him for that visit.  As strong as my sisters are, I’m not sure they would have taken it as well.  I’m thankful that he was surrounded by all four of his kids and many of his grand children.  We were all there when he passed.

The next couple of days were hard.  But Sunday was especially difficult.  It was the first Mother’s day without my mom.  It was the first Sunday and the first Mother’s day without my dad.  My phone took on its own persona .  You’ve heard people talk about the “elephant in the room.”   My phone became the giant phone in the room.  Everywhere I went, my phone was calling my name.  I so wanted to call my dad and for the first time, he wouldn’t be there and neither would my mom.  I felt alone and orphaned (for the lack of a better word).  I am thankful for my wife and kids along with my church family, who have prayed for me during this time.  My wife had taken my son to work so I could make it to church.  So, I went to church and felt the love from many who knew what I was going through.   As the day wore on, I began feeling less alone and I realized that I would be okay.  I also had the realization that the torch had been passed and had actually been passed some time ago.  My dad’s job was done.  A father’s job is to help bring his son or daughter into maturity so they can grow into being productive citizens.  I realized that although I loved and missed my father, I really didn’t need him any longer.  It had been a few years since I last sought his advice.  We talked regularly, and I took comfort knowing that his wisdom was always available, but I didn’t need it.  His wisdom had already been poured into my life since I was little.  His wisdom was mixed with the wisdom God has given me to prepare me for the tasks he has for my life.  In a very real sense, what has happened is not unlike a father letting go for their child’s first steps, or letting go when the child is first riding a bicycle or letting go when their son or daughter gets married.  At each of these milestones, a father only lets go when he’s certain the child can do it alone.  In this case, my dad’s race has been run and he has let go and the race is ours now.  It is up to us to continue pouring into our own children and those who God gives us to also raise up.  I am thankful I was given a torch of love, joy, peace, family and most importantly a faith in Christ.  This is the torch I am passing on.  God has added to it in order that what I pass down isn’t tainted with hurts and wounds and he’s added lessons learned in my own life.  But, even though this is true, when I look at my life, I can see the legacy that has been handed down from previous generations with each generation adding to it as they teach their own children.  This is the heritage of the Lord.

Psalms 127:3-5  Lo, children are the inheritance of Jehovah; the fruit of the womb is a reward. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the sons of the young. Blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

I am ever so thankful that I got to have both of my parents for a little more than 58 years.  But what about those who may have lost a parent or parents much younger?  I have good news for you.

Mark 10:29-30  And Jesus answered and said, Truly I say to you, There is no man that has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my sake and the gospel’s sake,  but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions, and in the world to come, eternal life.

In this passage, Jesus is referring to those who have left family relationships for Jesus’ sake or the sake of the gospel.  The same would apply to those who have LOST those relationships for the sake of the gospel as well (the family left or disowned the believer).  How much more would this apply to those who are believers who lost a parent (or parents) when they were young?  Look at the promise that Jesus makes here:

There is no man that has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my sake and the gospel’s sake,  but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions…

My friend, if you still have your parent(s), then make sure you take time to love them.  If the relationship is broken, then make the effort to make that right and forgive.  You may need to get help in that area and that’s okay.  Get counseling if needed.

If you’ve lost a parent either due to death or just a broken relationship and have felt lost and alone, then take hold of this promise.  Ask him to give you a mom or a dad or brother or sister or whatever family relationship you need.  If you need a parent and don’t have one, he’ll send one to you.  Don’t believe me?  Look at my Mother’s day post and read about John.  Look at Paul and Timothy.

2Timothy_1:2  To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul never married, yet Timothy is his son?  Yes, and a dearly beloved son.  Timothy needed a father in his life and so God sent him Paul.

Let’s look at Elijah and Elisha.

2Ki 2:11-12  And it happened as they went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire came, and they separated between them both. And Elijah went up in a tempest into Heaven.   

And Elisha saw, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen! And he saw him no more. And he took hold of his clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Elijah was not Elisha’s natural father (that was Shaphat).  Yet, he cries out “My father, my father.”  Why?  Because Elijah had become as a father in Elisha’s life.

Both relationships (Paul and Timothy and Elijah and Elisha) are examples of spiritual parenting.  These relationships can be very deep and the purpose is to bring healing and in some cases, hands on training (or both) for the son or daughter.  See my Mother’s day post for an example of a spiritual mother.

My friend, God is no respecter of person’s.  What he has done for one, he can and will do for you, simply because of his great love for you.  Just ask him.  No matter what the relational need is,  be it father, mother, sister, brother or just a friend.  Ask him and let him fill that void in your life.  He wants you healed and made completely whole.

Thank you for allowing me to share from my heart as I deal with my own loss.  I hope to be able to post on a much more regular basis, soon.  I’m not quite there yet, but it will be soon.  I have written much and look forward to sharing it with you.  Perhaps a few more weeks.  Until next time, may God’s richest blessings be yours in Christ.

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