It has been a somber day for this typically upbeat and sassy lady. On a normal day my laughter can be heard from the four corners of the earth. Today my spirit feels quiet. I know that I’m processing the whirlwind of events that have happened in the past month. Phone calls, tests, hospitalizations, travel, and the word that Dad’s time remaining on this earth is limited. It almost feels wrong to be sassy and laughing when we are awaiting the word that the end has come. Especially difficult is the preparation for this news for an unsaved man. A man who is rejecting Christ and accepting an eternity separated from Him in eternal fire.
My lifetime with Dad has been a difficult one. Mom and I suffered decades of emotional abuse at the hands, or should I say mouth, of my Dad. Yet somehow in the last year, my walk with Christ has grown stronger, and my desire to be who He has called me to be has intensified. Forgiveness has overcome bitterness, and compassion overtaken a desire for his punishment. As the many conflicting emotions have been stirring in my heart and soul, God spoke boldly to me tonight through His mighty Word.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Colossians 3:12-13 jumps out at me. This passage speaks volumes as I consider what plan God has for my life.
Therefore. I always hear pastors say, “what’s the therefore, therefore?” In this case, it is there to remind me that because I am chosen by God and because He calls me holy and beloved, I have a job to do. I have a lifestyle to live that imitates Jesus. Quite simply, no matter how much pain I have suffered in my life at the hands (or mouth) of another, it is required of me to forgive that person.
I realize that I have done exactly that. Tonight, I find my somber heart feeling warm joy. Joy because I have forgiven Dad for all that he has done in my life. I forgive Dad because God has commanded me to do so. I also forgive him because he is a lost man. A man without the hope of a beautiful eternity worshiping at the feet of Jesus. Oh how I have prayed, and tried to demonstrate the need for Dad to accept Christ as his Savior. Greater yet was the moment when I found my hurt had been replaced by the very things God has told me to “put on”.
Tenderness and mercy abounded as I held my Dad’s frail hands, and as I gave him fed him meals, and gave him medication. Kindness prevailed as I tucked him into bed at night just as I had done for my son when he was young. I don’t remember Dad ever taking time to tuck me in, or spend a gentle, quiet moment with me. That doesn’t make me angry anymore. Now it makes me hurt for him. It humbles me to know that God chose me to minister to this man who raised me, who hurt me, and who now needs me. Yes, long-suffering has been present in my life. The story is far too long to share in this format, but it certainly has been lived. I’ve had my share of complaints, but no longer do I hold them against Dad. For just at Christ has done for me, I have forgiven my Dad. Even tonight I continue to pray for his salvation. I pray that before he takes his last breath this side of eternity he will ask Christ to save him.
Oh, and that forgiveness I’ve extended to Dad…well I’ve extended it to myself as well. I have done all that I can do. I have honored my father and my mother. Above all I have honored God because He has called me His child.