(Written by Machelle Wells McNally)
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
…so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope…
Here in the near future I am going to be letting go of someone who means so much to me, my dad.
As I write this I am sitting in his office upstairs, somewhere he hasn’t sat in well over a year. In my view are guitar building trinkets, little robots he built, items that remind him of his dad and one item in particular – a picture of a man golfing.
When we lived in Green Bay one of the local Christian radio stations was offering a giveaway for Father’s Day. I decided that I wanted the world to know how awesome my dad was, so I put in my information and a letter explaining why my dad deserved to win.
I can’t tell you what I wrote but I have a really good idea of what I probably did say.
See, growing up my dad was not always physically around. He worked for UPS when I was born which kept him away for long hours. I have fond memories of being 5 or 6 and going with my mom, Rebecca and Dallas to deliver him dinner. It was always something different but for some reason leftover spaghetti in a round Country Crock container is what stands out the most along with a huge red thermos of sweet ice tea.
When we moved to Virginia he had to work full time while attending school full time. So, that meant we did not get to see him much in that season of our lives either. Although, my mom would make the same move and take us to deliver dinner while he worked a late shift when employed at the Liberty University Police Department.
Fast forward through the years where he was able to work at a couple of churches that gave somewhat of a normal schedule, this allowed him to be around a little more. Then in 2007 I moved to Virginia to attend the same school my dad did and put myself in a position of not seeing him frequently for another 7 years.
Watching him work hard as I grew up stood out because at the time I didn’t like it. I didn’t really appreciate it then when I wanted him to stay for my birthday parties or attend my choir concerts. Looking back now I realize none of that was done out of no desire to be there but out of obligation to provide. My dad is a provider but if I dare say it he is more of a spiritual provider – which is the most important.
He disciplined and directed us to live out the godliest lives we can. To make sure our decisions lead to things that would honor God. We were not perfect, just as no one is but I am forever grateful to have had that kind of leadership in my life, where Jesus was always first.
It’s because of that dad, that I wrote that letter to win him this random golfing picture. When I see that I think of him and how much I wanted him to have this so that he would know how proud I was of him and to be his daughter.
I know that I will see my dad again, I have that hope Paul is talking about in the 1 Thessalonians. I have given my life to Christ. Watching my dad suffer is something I never thought I would have to be a part of, no one thought in a million years he would be diagnosed with ALS. If we are all honest with ourselves we see these rare diseases and think “never me” or “that’s far too rare to make its way into my circle.” Those are lies. Lies we tell ourselves to make us feel invincible as though death will never knock on our door in any form or fashion. We all have an appointment with it, it’s inevitable.
At the end of the day we are all dying – whether we know our time frame or not. Our bodies will not last forever but our souls will. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Everyone has eternity set in their hearts, something in them that will last forever.
Where will you be for eternity? Do you have a hope that you can cling to when times like these come? I promise you they will, no one is guaranteed tomorrow – the next 5 seconds you’re not even promised.
If you haven’t done so already please give your life to Christ. Know that you know when it is your time to leave that you’re walking into an eternity of life and not death.
I love you dad – thank you for being such a bold and vocal servant of God. One day I aspire to be as brave as you are when sharing my faith in Jesus.