Enjoy the Journey
My dad and I were very close. I would say we were best buddies. When I was young we would wrestle and chase each other. It was not uncommon to pull pranks on one another. We had fun! As time progressed, we worked around our place together. There were always family chores and outside responsibilities and dad would always try make those times fun and special.
Sometimes, when it was hot during the summer, he would say, “Hop in the truck and let’s go to town and get something cold to drink.” And so it would be a soda and a little bag of peanuts, a great treat! And all the while we would talk and visit, and if the time was right, we might listen to a good baseball game on the radio. Speaking of sports, we enjoyed playing catch, regardless of baseball or football. It was always time well spent.
I remember how Dad would regularly open the Word of God and we would share back and forth the meaning of Scripture. Jesus became very special to me, and I thank the Lord that my dad helped introduce me to Jesus.
As I kept maturing into a young adult, dad was there when I met my beautiful bride. He was there when my boys were born. Oh, what joy we shared! As a minister, he was a great mentor to me when I started in ministry. He was encouraging and positive. He had great perspective. What a treasure! We talked about ministry almost every day by phone.
Then I remember receiving a phone call from dad one day, telling me he had cancer. What a shock! I could hardly believe it. He was the strong man in the family; he was the example. Dad have cancer? I wrestled with that news. Yes, I prayed earnestly for him. I participated in an anointing service for him. I believed God would heal him. And for a time he was better, but the disease began running its course. In time, I knew he wasn’t going to make it, save a miracle from God. What a struggle! I remember wondering what it would be like without dad. Frankly, the thought of no dad was tough. It hurt a lot.
I remember that last time I saw him alive. We were talking shop. We spoke of ministry and evangelism. Jesus was coming soon and people needed Jesus, now! And out of that last conversation, I remember dad telling me to go home and shepherd my flock; there was nothing more I could really do for him, and that was okay. I pulled out of the driveway to drive back to my flock; it was one of the hardest journeys I have ever endured. But on that drive home, God kept speaking to me. He continued to remind me that I was not alone. God was still walking with me. There was nothing to fear; He was always there.
Out of that conversation with God, I developed the resolve to keep moving forward. A couple of days later a friend asked me how my prayer life was and what was I praying for with my dad. I replied, “Lord, if you have more for daddy to do, please heal him, but if not, please let him rest.” My friend shook his head in agreement.
It was only a couple of weeks later that my dad was gone, asleep in Jesus. He is resting and awaiting the resurrection. Out of that experience, I grew in grace. We never walk alone! Praise God! Sometimes growth is painful. Sometimes spiritual maturity is difficult. But when our Master walks with us day by day, it becomes a joy to keep our hand in His!
By Richard C. Dye, Sr., Arkansas-Louisiana Conference President