Fathers Day has always been a difficult day for me. I only had my dad for 24 years, but during those years, I knew what it was to be loved unconditionally, and I’ve never forgotten what that was like. There are no arms now that hold me close but there is a Love that will not let me go.
My dad went to church his entire life but didn’t accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior until two months before he met Him face to face. He was 70 years old. No one would ever have thought that my dad was not on his way to heaven. He never gossiped or said unkind things about anyone. Dad never talked much–except about farming–but when he did it was always worth listening to. He loved life and the land, his family and being at home. He was respected in the community because he was a good man and a good farmer.
On one of his frequent visits, our pastor, Kenneth Pickering, who knew that Dad didn’t have long to live, asked him if he was ready to meet Jesus. Dad admitted he wasn’t totally sure but said he’d always tried to do what was right and had gone to church all of his life so he supposed he would go to heaven. As Kenneth shared Romans 10:9-10 with him, Dad realized that, even though he believed in Jesus, he never had asked Him to be the Lord of his life.
That afternoon I got a call from Kenneth, who told me I should go see my dad, so I drove the mile to Mom & Dad’s house. When I went in the bedroom, I saw the huge smile Dad had on his face, and I sat on the edge of the bed while he told me how he had asked Jesus to come into his life and knew he would be in heaven when he died. Even though Dad was bedfast and in constant pain, there was a new peace in his voice and in his expression too—a peace that had never been there before.
During the next two months, as the cancer claimed more of my dad’s once-healthy body, he didn’t complain about the increasing pain but always tried his best to manage a smile. One night when I was spending the night so Mother could sleep, my dad cried out, “Sara, Sara, come here!” I was just a few steps away in the den and was by his side in a few seconds. Grabbing my arms with his trembling hands, he looked into my eyes and said, “Make sure they go to heaven. Make sure they all go to heaven—all of you and the children—make sure they all accept Jesus. I want to see all of you again. Will you promise me you’ll do that?” he cried. As I comforted him, I assured him I would tell everyone in our family what he wanted, and through the years I have. Two weeks later, my dad met the Jesus he had heard about all his life but had only really known for two months.
It dawned on me just today that I am the same age Dad was when he went to his heavenly home; and although I have no life-threatening illness, who knows except God how much time I have left on this earth? I’ve shared my dad’s story with many people, and the bottom line is, someday, and it may be today, we will go from this place we call home to the place we will spend eternity—either with God or without Him. Don’t let the opportunity go by to say ‘I love you’ or ‘Forgive me’ or ‘Do you know Jesus?’ This moment–right now–might be your last chance.