We took the kids to my dad's grave for the first time last week. I've been there several times and it always tugs at my heart. I stare at his nameplate and think, "Oh Dad, you were so young." Having the kids there with us reminded me of everything he will miss. He would have loved to hear about Keygan's first car and his summer jobs. He would have admired how pretty Kelsi is getting and gotten a kick out of her forthrightness. He would have noticed how tall Tanner is and Keeli's pictures would have found a place on his fridge. It makes me sad to think he won't see any of his grandkids graduate from high school or get married. My brothers will probably have children he'll never see. My kids won't have the privilege of hearing his laugh or silly phrases.
Of course, with Father's day coming up I've thought about him a lot. I've been wearing a pair of earrings every day this week that were a special Christmas gift from him. I bought all the stuff to make chocolate pie--his favorite--but I can't bring myself to make it yet. And I've thought a lot about the question of salvation. He professed belief in Jesus. He answered all the "right" questions correctly. Yet I always wondered about him. I didn't think I saw "fruits" in his life. His behavior did not suggest to me a serious commitment to God. He smoked most of his life, liked his beer and enjoyed going to the races and "the boats" (for those of you not familiar with the lingo, the casinos in Council Bluffs). I didn't think a "real" Christian would do those things. Now I feel so stupid.
Now I realize he displayed other, way more important things in his life. He was one of the most NON-judgmental people I know. He was kind to people and didn't insist on his own way. (I can just see him now, shrugging his shoulders and saying, "whatever".) I can't imagine he ever had an enemy. I'm confident that most of the people I grew up with would say he was a good guy. He had a GREAT sense of humor. When he was well, he enjoyed life. He didn't get angry. I think I could count on one hand the times I saw him mad. He was the polar opposite of greedy. Though he didn't always express it well, family was important to him. I look over that list and see the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. How could I have missed that? Who do I think I am?
I'm sorry, Dad, for thinking you had to fit my mold. I'm sorry if I made you feel you were not good enough. You weren't perfect, but I loved you. I love you. I understand your heart leaned toward God. Forgive me for not giving you enough credit. I hope you can see how much I miss you.
Lord Jesus, forgive me for seeing his speck and not my log. Who else do I do this to? What damage do I cause? How can I prevent myself from doing this in the future?
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)