A teacher of mine recently lost her dad and she’s posted several times about “winks” from him. Until then I’d never heard of “winks from heaven,” but I love the imagery because my daddy had quite the way of winking at us girls. This week I had a very special wink. A wink from my Daddy, and maybe too a wink from my heavenly father.
Last night the hubby and I were talking about life and, among other things, what I call “ripples”… the things that happen to us that affect our trajectory. In other words, some things happen because of our choices versus things that happen to us that can impact or impair our direction.
I was thinking of it in the sense of negative things… a traumatic event, the loss of someone close to us… but as we were discussing he said those ripples aren’t just bad things that there are good things too. Things like his grandfather taking him in the summer before his senior year or the couple who let him live in their shack while he finished high school. And then he said, “but those things were by the grace of God even if I didn’t deserve them.”
So then he recalled how his dad had come to church one time just before he got killed. And I know this was a very strong memory for him because his dad had been incredibly abusive to him and his family. But one day his dad came to town for a visit and for some reason went to church with him. Somehow, as a little child, my husband had started going to church… all alone. None of his family ever went, just him… except this one time. And then his dad was killed not long after that. And I wondered if maybe that moment was a “ripple,” if that might have been a way his dad met the Lord.
Earlier this week someone shared a meme that said:
“How does the thief on the cross fit into your theology? No baptism, no communion, no confirmation, no speaking in tongues, no mission trip, no volunteerism, and no church clothes. He couldn’t even bend his knees to pray. He didn’t say the sinner’s prayer and among other things, he was a thief. Jesus didn’t take away his pain, heal his body, or smite the scoffers. Yet it was a thief who walked into heaven the same hour as Jesus simply by believing. He had nothing more to offer other than his belief that Jesus was who he said he was.”
This has been on my mind, constantly spinning and playing in my thoughts. Today is the fourth anniversary of the day my daddy left this earth. And one of the hardest things I’ve had to confront in losing him is the belief that I failed him. I’ve been working through this since that very day I received the word that he was gone because in the months before he died I’d had the very intentional sense I needed to talk to him about faith and about Jesus. In my memory, I can’t recall a single moment we ever talked about the Lord, and the first and most intense thoughts I had when he died were…
It’s too late…
What did Daddy believe…
Did he know the Lord…
Despite having four years to try to work through this, I still struggle over it. I’ve talked to my hubby about it many times and my beautiful friend Tawdra Kandle has counseled me on it too. But it’s hard to let go of the very real guilt I feel about it. And we all know guilt harbored doesn’t serve any real purpose.
This morning on the drive to work those regrets were churning in my heart. And as I pondered it, this song came on my playlist (Hillary Scott’s “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)”)
The last part goes:
“With your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side
And fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live”
As I heard those lyrics, I looked up and saw that the truck in front of me had a license plate and the first three digits were FLY.
It was like God was saying, “Stop worrying. Stop carrying that burden. You’re my child. Your Daddy is my child. And he’s here with me right now.”
My God is the ultimate “ripple” in life and He reaches every single corner searching for us. My God is bigger than anything I did or didn’t do. And He never gives up on us, no matter what. So whether or not my Daddy went to church or talked to me about God and Jesus or ever expressed his faith to me… none of that matters. Because it only takes a moment, a mere second of faith for his spirit to fly to Jesus in paradise.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”Luke 15: 4-7
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