The following is the man I had the privileged to call “dad”.
In his later years my father wrestled with whether he had wasted his life pastoring small, out of the way congregations. It is understandable for he did his work in simple, but profound ways. He fed his family and his church with the substance of Jesus in his own life. Early each Monday morning my father reported to his job as a bookkeeper for an oil tool rental company. For the next five and a half days he would put in fifty plus hours earning a paycheck to care for his family. In the late evening dad sat in his favorite chair and read, a Bible open on his lap and other books open face down on the floor beside him as he studied, prepared and prayed for the coming week.
Saturday brought no leisurely breakfast or nice round of golf. Rather, suitcases were packed, food boxes loaded, and kids rounded up from the prairie.Mom would count heads and when dad arrived home from work – off we would go. It was sixty miles between out home and the little flock of believers my dad shephered. At the end of the ride we pulled around to the back of a small, wood framed building that housed the congregation. We unloaded our goods into a small trailer house that served as our week-end home. As mom unpacked and the kids scattered like tumbleweeds before a March wind, dad would quietly move off into the sparsely populated community to to visit and care for his flock.
Sunday, the common oil patch people came – all thirty or forty of them. Dad taught, preached, counseled, prayed, shared and loved the flock. They were well nourished under his careful tending. When evening service ended it was time to pack up and head home. When we arrived home late in the night, kids and suitcases were carted into the house. after labor the kids knew nothing of, Mom and Dad would fall into bed exhausted.
Monday morning came a few hours later and the whole process began again.
Several times throughout the years the location changed, sometime more miles, sometimes less. The feel of it never changed. His life had the texture of selflessness; the aroma of a holy sacrifice being offered up to the Lord. No one notices, no great applause and these many years later some of those chrch no longer exist. Most all of the adults have passed away and their children have only a faint, if any, memory of Dad.
Thus, it is understandable that when Dad grew too feeble to continue, he would reflect, and questions would come concerning how he had spent his life.
But at the moment when Dad stepped out of his worn tent of a body and entered heaven – at that moment all those fears of living an unremarkable, unimportant life vanished as He heard his Heavenly father say, “well done,…. well done my faithful servant,… well done my son”.
I have lifted this from my oldest brothers writing “The Blessed Pastor”, (you can get it on Amazon), a powerful, simple, truthful work about ministry. As the years progressed and I was born – the last of 6 – the story was the same. Sunday morning came and we climbed in the car, drove 60 miles to a small community simply called “Crossroads” (a church, a bar, and a gas station at the intersection of two simple prairie blacktops), we spent the day as Dad would teach, and shepherd the sparsely populated community of nearly 75 square miles. I never had a tremendous youth program or a worship leader that could carry a tune, but I knew God and I learned what a Godly man looks like. I am blessed!
This Fathers day we will hear from scripture some simple phrases from The Father that we all deeply long to hear, “Well Done’, I am proud of you”, “That’s My son!”