For Dad

[On April 10th my father passed away, six weeks after his diagnosis with cancer. He was 56 years old and will be greatly missed. The following is a word I shared at his memorial service on April 16th at Pacific View Memorial Park, Corona Del Mar, CA.]

There was a preacher who used to say that this world is a confused mystery of bright and dark. I know what he meant. My dad’s life was a spark of brightness for those who knew him. His passing has left a void of darkness. That preacher was right. This world is an ambiguous blend of bright and dark.

When I heard the news of my dad’s diagnosis I tried to think of a word of hope and encouragement I could offer him. But my words fell short. I didn’t know what to tell him. It turns out, that didn’t matter. Throughout my dad’s illness, it was he who remained the father and caretaker in our relationship, and I the son. Never ceasing to look out for his boys, he was the one who had a consoling word ready for me. He shared his counsel as he led my brothers and me in a prayer at the hospital late one night. These were his words, “I don’t know where this will lead, but I trust that all things lead to You.” With this confession my dad had not only exposed to me the extent to which I had been seized by grief and fear, but he also helped me situate these feelings within an affirmation of faith that was seated deeper than my despair. At the time I couldn’t have prayed those words. Like my dad, I didn’t know where this was leading. The difference between us was that I was fearing the worst. I couldn’t see past the dark prognosis. It was my dad who turned my gaze back to the source of all light. This was the testimony he left my brothers and me: all things lead to You, O Lord. It is in the bright and glorious vision of our God and Father that all things find their origin and end. We won’t always know why our lives take the courses they do in this ambiguous world. Nevertheless there is a measure of rest afforded us in the gospel’s assurance that we are all the children of a Father who knows better than we do, a Father with a word of consolation ready for us when we find ourselves at a loss for words. My dad believed this. And in his final weeks his own life pictured the very gospel he treasured above all else. That’s how I will remember him. Amen.

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