This week I am talking with my sister and brother and planning our Dad’s memorial service. He passed away on June 6, 2020, and we are just now able to get together for a service coming up in October. How do you share memories of your Dad? How do you express your personal thoughts regarding your hero? How do you craft a service that captures over 55 years of full-time Christian ministry? Oh and don’t go too long because people have places to go and lives to live. My siblings and I decided to let some of my dad’s favorite music represent his heart. There will be Scripture read that will represent his soul condition. We also plan to have a video of many pictures that represent his life. Lastly we seek to share some of our thoughts and memories of this man who had a massive impact on the lives of so many people, including his children and grandchildren.
Today I felt that I wanted to take some time to share a glimpse into the man who I had the privilege of calling my Dad. He was born into a Swedish immigrant family during the Great Depression. He was not flashy at all. Rather he was frugal and spent a great deal of time on repairs to get “just one more season/year out of it.” He was, however, very intentional in his interactions with people and how he spent his time and money.
I remember the surprise trip he made to my elementary school to pick me up so I would not miss out on a special moment. He had been invited by a Colonel in our church to come to the Air Force base and be on hand for the arrival of the 38th President, Gerald Ford. He could have gone and made this trip by himself, but he took at least an extra hour to come pick me up at school and drive to see Air Force One, the fleet of black Lincoln Continentals, the red carpet, and of course the President. Well, it had the impact Dad intended. I can still recall that day very clearly 45 years later. I am thankful for his thoughtfulness.
I also remember the time he took three days off work to help lead the sixth grade outdoor education trip with my elementary school. He not only took the time off; he taught a unit on forestry in northern Minnesota. This was the first time that I recall two of my worlds crashing into one another. Here was my Dad in the midst of all my school friends. He did a good job of connecting to the kids and being a positive leader of the trip. I was not embarrassed to have him there, as is so very common with children and their parents. I remember appreciating at the time that he left his job, which was very demanding of his time, spending it with my classmates, and more importantly with me. Even though we did not spend every hour together that week, I knew he was there for me. It also was the first time I had ever seen him let his facial hair grow at all! And it was grey! I guess I could have taken that as a hint? I am very thankful for his intentional investment of time.
I can also clearly recall my Dad’s response to purchases that I wanted to make. He wrestled with the new basketball shoes I wanted to buy because there was an equally sufficient pair that was 25% less. But he always did make sure I had shoes. I remember his helping me pick out a much-needed new baseball glove. The pro-model was not it. Evidently I was not at that level, yet! I have vivid memories of negotiating meals at restaurants. He had veto power of course. As we would agree on a selection, I always wondered why he was being stingy? It took me many years to realize that he was teaching me a very valuable lesson. That lesson was the value of a dollar. Growing up our family had our needs met, but our wants were not always fulfilled. Part of that was growing up in a Pastor’s family. Part of that was teaching the value of the words “no” and “wait.” Those words will help our children nowadays in so many ways if we will only utter them occasionally.
All of these memories of my dad, and many others, are best represented in a passage of Scripture that has become one of my favorites in the last several years. That passage is Proverbs 30:7-9 . “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” You see the reason my Dad was who he was, is because he had a healthy fear of God and desired to serve Him with his whole life. He never wanted to forget who the Lord was and what He had done in his life. He also did not want to do anything that would stand in the way of people desiring and seeing God.
My Dad taught his children to view God and life the same way he did. He regularly pointed his children to what believers in Jesus Christ look forward to, the eternal future. He was content in this world because he knew with all of his being that this world is a temporary home. No reason to get too worked up about things that will not last. He took every opportunity to proclaim the joy he experienced in Christ Jesus to anyone who would listen. Much of his focus in ministry was to children, his own and other peoples. I am confident that he will have quite the reunion of people who will be thanking him for being obedient and pointing them to Christ! I know one current grey-haired grandpa who will be right in the middle of that crowd.
Thanks Dad for being such a godly, loving, and intentional example. I love you and miss you!