First of all, I would like to start this post by wishing all the fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day. If I remember correctly, it has been three years since the last time I wrote anything about my own father. My father and I didn’t have the best relationship growing up. And when he died unexpectedly in 2002, I began trying my best to forget that he ever even existed. All that changed, however, several years ago when I realized that the unforgiveness I was harboring in my heart against him was doing more harm to me than it ever would do to him. A couple years ago, I explained my feelings about my father in a letter to a good friend, and I would like to share part of that with you here today.
Speaking of my father, I spent the first eight years after his death trying to erase all memories of him from my mind. The truth is I hated my father for choosing his selfish, sinful lifestyle over our family. He didn’t actually walk out on us, although he did; my mother kicked him out. I’ve told very few people this, but my father had a drug problem. He took his own life the same way his musical hero, Elvis, took his. He and the rest of the family kept it well hidden, but it was there. I knew he didn’t have a valid driver’s license, but I never really questioned why. It wasn’t until after his death that the truth began to come out. It was then that I started to put two and two together and begin to truly understand the reason behind some of the things that had happened when I was younger, like why he never could keep a steady job, the real reason he didn’t have a driver’s license, etc.
It wasn’t until about two years ago that I realized that what I was doing was very wrong. God commands us to forgive. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” A very wise person once said, “Forgiveness is for the forgiver.” He was dead. Me holding a grudge wasn’t doing one blessed thing to him, but it was eating me alive. So I chose to forgive and bear my grudge no longer. Since then, my thoughts toward him have changed completely. Now, instead of being glad he was no longer a part of my life, I wish he still was. And I often wonder what it could’ve been. You know, if he had gotten help, if they hadn’t got a divorce. Would he still be here? Would I be writing about his successes rather than his failures?
Reba McEntire sings a song called “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.” (No, I am not a Reba fan. I just know the song exists. I much more prefer songs like “My Mother’s Faith.”) Nobody knew my father like my grandmother. She was his biggest fan, even though I know the life he chose for himself broke her heart. To hear her tell it, he hung the moon. And she’s told me on several occasions, “I know you know the bad, but there was a lot of good.” That’s why I like to think that my father was the greatest man I never knew. It’s also why I pray that I will live my life in such a way that my children will get to see the man that God always intended me to be, instead of the other way around.
Although my father professed to know Jesus Christ as Lord, I still lack assurance of his salvation. The fruit simply wasn’t there. If you yourself are a father and you are here reading this today, I beg you not to let your children be able to say the same of you one day. In fact, that is the only reason I have chosen to share my story with you here today. Please, if you have yet to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life, please do so before it is eternally too late for you. If you will simply turn from all sin and trust Christ alone to save you, he will save you today and keep you saved forever.