My dad and mom got married over 63 years ago. I doubt that they expected to have 43 descendents, but they do. We all get along well. Like two weeks ago, when we thought dad was going to die when he went off medical support after going through 3 proceedures to stop his internal bleeding without success– everyone showed up and hung out at dads room to celebrate his life. My siblings, theirs kids, their kids kids. And we all had a wonderful time together, being with dad and mom. Then after 5 days it turned out that dad, with a hemoglobin level of 4.7, was still doing relatively well, and stopped bleeding on his own, and so he got some more blood, and 5 days later he was home walking.
When dad was really healthy, he counted it as a blessing. When he was sick in the hospital, he talked about what a blessing it was to have his family and friends who came to visit (he averaged 50 visitors per day). And people like to be around dad, because he lives with an optimism that is powered by his faith. His way of life is deceptively simple– he doesn’t try to know what is coming, he has instead focused on how to respond to whatever comes.
His kids and family have unity, there are no divorces, and generally we are trying to live our lives in love for Christ. And people ask mom and dad what their child rearing secrets were– what authors he’d read (dad never read a book on raising a child) or what his secret was. And dads response is, “well, we did have family devotions (where you read the bible and pray together) each morning, but really we didn’t know what we were doing– we just asked God to bless our mistakes.” This, I think, could become a prayer for a lifetime: “God, please bless my mistakes…”
The week dad was in the hospital I was talking with him, and he said to me that he was just amazed at how his life had turned out– what a family he had, and all of his friends– but, he said, “I feel as though I just stumbled along and just asked God to bless my mistakes.” Again, this way of living, this way of looking at the world, and not trying to know everything, but focusing instead on submitting ones ways to God, in humility.
When I look at my fathers life– his family, his friends, his satisfaction with his work, his outlook– I think that his is an enviable life. But not because of one or two brilliant decisions, or some profound secret insight. His life is what it is because of a simple steady faithfulness– a striving to submit his life to God and to say, in effect, “not my will, but Thine”. One verse he talked about during our time together was “Be still and know that I am God” or his favorite version: “Cease striving, and know that I am God”. This releasing his will to God and essentially leaving the results to God while doing what he could, from his limited human perspective.
There is no secret or hard to understand knowledge in this way of living. But it is hard to do– day in and day out– consistently like the sun. Dad is the first to admit he is far from perfect, but his honest authentic consistent trying to live his life for God and the humility and love and concern for others which sprung from that are an example of life as I want to live it.
I am so thankful that dad is still here. The last few weeks have helped me once again be especially thankful for him and his life.