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Amazing Grace: A Tribute to My Dad

This is me and my dad. For those who have read my previous blog posts, you know I have an interesting relationship with my dad. In fact, after he left, we practically had no relationship whatsoever....with the exception of the occasional holiday phone call. Definitely not Father of the Year, but still my father. Yesterday morning, he passed away. The last 24 hours have been wrought with many emotions, which I am still sorting through and trying to make sense of. When I think back on his life, I am saddened by his bad choices, deep regrets and even deeper wounds. But, through it all, I have seen God's amazing grace weaved through his life.

My dad did not have a good home-life. In fact, it made my home-life look like a walk in the park. His father was ten times worse than anything my dad ever was. I can't imagine what it was like to grow up in the environment he did. And, yet, by God's grace, he managed to come out on the other side. He became an incredible musician, which led him to meet and marry my mom. They worked in the church together and led worship. They had a Christian band and even opened at Ichthus. Then, they had me and my sister. There were lots of bad decisions and times in between, but God's grace covers so much. Even after my dad left, I can see clear evidence of God's grace. There were so many near-death experiences that God pulled him through. So many times he ran out of money and didn't have anywhere to go, but God provided. So many times he didn't have a job or two feet to stand on, but God made a way. Even in his death, God's grace was so abundant. My dad's worst fear was dying alone, as his dad did. I knew I couldn't be with him in his last moments, but I was praying so hard that someone would be and that God would surround Him with His presence so my dad would feel God's peace. Well, God's grace came in the form of a loving hospice nurse. My mom had arranged for people to write in and send messages to my dad - messages of memories and good times, messages of hope and love. The nurse read each of these to my dad in his final hours and days. And, then, when it was time, she was with him as he breathed his last breath. After years of isolating himself through his substance abuse and subsequent poor decisions, God, in His abundant love and grace, allowed a sweet nurse to comfort my dad and hold his hand. My dad was a veteran, so they draped his body in the American flag as it was transported to the funeral home. Such a dignified act for a man who probably wasn't deserving. But isn't that what God's grace is all about....

My dad didn't deserve any of the wonderful things he had in his life. But, neither do you and me. That's what God's grace is all about - unmerited favor. There is nothing we can do or not do to be deserving of God's grace and favor, but He generously bestows it on each of us. If we're truly being honest with ourselves, we deserve death and eternity apart from God for all of the sins we have each committed. Thank God He isn't fair. Thank God He sent Jesus to take away our sins so we could live a grace-filled, abundant life. No, God isn't fair - He is merciful and kind and loving and full of grace and compassion. I don't want a God who is fair because I deserve nothing good. I want a God who is loving.

When people reflect back on my dad's life, I'm sure there will be some who harshly judge his decisions and think he got what he deserved and reaped the consequences of those decisions. I'm sure I will feel this way too, at times, when anger wins out over love. But, when I think back over my dad's life, what I see evidenced most clearly is a story of God's amazing grace. His story, like yours and mine, is an illustration of the beautiful, abundant, undeserving grace of God. This is how I will remember my dad and this is how I honor my dad, by shining a light on the goodness of God evidenced throughout his life. I love you, dad, and am so happy that you aren't suffering anymore. And, if I know you, you're probably playing guitar in a band of that's an awesome way to spend eternity. Goodbye for now.....


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