My Father Figure

Lately at church I have asked various people from different backgrounds and walks of life to give their story of how they came to follow Christ. This past Sunday my dad spoke. It was not his first time sharing, he had shared his story at an Easter service a couple of years ago, but for some reason I've found myself reflecting more on his story now then I did previously.

My dad was born in June of '48. His father passed away while he was an infant and his mom moved to Californian to pursue a career on various cruise ships. That left my dad being raised by his grandparents. He quit school in the 10th grade, was in constant trouble with the law, and even spent time in a juvenile home. In '68 he volunteered for the Vietnam war. While fighting on the front lines he saw and experienced more horror then the average person could even imagine. Once he got home, he met my mom and was soon married. They started a life together, bought a house, had 2 kids, and began a 30+ year carrier as a postal employee. As they raised my sister and I, we would be at church every Sunday morning. My mom was a Christian, my dad was a Church-goer.

As I grew up, my dad and I had a non-existent relationship and what time we would spend together was strained. He was working 60+ hours a week and I was growing resentful of his lack of fatherly support. Now don't get me wrong, I never wanted for anything. Dad always provided for us physically. He just lacked giving us the support we needed emotionally. I always told myself that maybe my dad just never knew how to be a dad. Maybe his time in Vietnam and the years that followed were to much for him and he handled life the only way he knew how: with am angry bitter soul that kept those close to him pushed away while we wrestled with his personal demons.

Then one night I got the call. It was in October 2000. My parents had been invited to a church of one of my dad's coworkers for a special play they were putting on. In that play the question was raised time and time again, "Are you ready to follow Christ?". After 53 years of pain, anger, stress, hate, and every other negative feeling a person can have, my dad finally answered yes. Yes he was ready to follow Christ. When they got home and called me to inform me of Dad's decision, my joy was mixed with skepticism. Would dad really be a changed man? Would he really be able to put away the baggage that held him down for so long?

It's been 6 years since that night. Six years of seeing my dad become the shell of the man that I grew up with. Has he changed? Absolutely! Is he now the dad that I always wanted? Without a doubt! My dad now is one of the kindest, thoughtful, sharing, godly men I know. God now comes first in every aspect of his life. I sit back and watch as he treats his four grandkids with the love and attention I always craved from him. His anger and bitterness have turned to patience and peace. Dad feels he has a second lease on life and he's living it the best he can.

As I think about my dad's transformation, I can't help but be reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!". My dad is a new creation. I knew the old and now I see the new. His life is just further evidence to me that it is impossible to experience a truly transformed life outside of Christ. All the self help books, medication, and therapy in world, while it may help, will never bring about the "new" that God promises apart from following Christ.

When people ask me if how I know God is real, I only have to point them no further than my father figure.


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