Two years ago today my father went to Heaven.
In late spring/early summer of 2008, out of the blue, we discovered he had a large inoperable brain tumor which would eventually take his life. To most people this would be the most devastating news. To some, this news would then send them into a tirade of expensive vacations, eating at fancy restaurants, checking things off of their “bucket list”, and pack as much of this world into those last months as possible. Not so for my father. Others upon hearing this news would become uncontrollably depressed and cry out “Woe is me!” Not so for my father. My father had a faith that was his sight, a hope that was imperishable, and a Savior who could cleanse him from all of his sins and wash him white as snow. Upon hearing he had this inoperable brain tumor he began to share the gospel with his doctors, the hospital janitors, and every visitor that came. His life became urgent to get things done for the Lord not for himself. The gospel was clearly central to his life but during those last months the gospel seemed to be what he was created for. Towards the end I would call him and he would be frustrated because he was losing his mental facility to share the gospel and then he would share the gospel with me. He felt so useless if sharing the gospel was not an option. The gospel was my fathers passion and he gave it to everybody including himself. One of my last phone calls with him stands out in my mind, he didn’t know my name, he didn’t know my wife’s name, but he knew I was a human and therefore a sinner in need of grace and the gospel of Jesus Christ, so he said “I may not know your name but I know that without Christ your are dead in your sins and trespasses and by God’s grace he will save you if you turn from sins and embrace Christ as Lord and Savior.” At the end the gospel was all he had. At his funeral we did not celebrate him or his achievements. Instead, by his request, we celebrated his Savior. We celebrated how Jesus had saved such a great sinner. We celebrated that by grace through faith my father had placed his faith in Jesus Christ and that he was in heaven with his Savior. We celebrated this:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
(Philippians 1:21-23 ESV)
My father’s life on the whole was about Christ and therefore to die was his gain. The same holds true for any believer. He was so excited to go be with Jesus that he would kid that he was going to get there before any of us. I praise God for my father and the gift that he was and the example he was in so many areas. May this be a reminder to me that this life needs to be about the urgency of the gospel.