My father is dying. He is 84 and living with bone cancer. The day will soon come when, like the patriarch Abraham, he will have "breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people." (Genesis 25:8 ESV).
In this twilight season of his life, I am very reflective of his role in setting me up to succeed on my journey. The day will come when I (along with his family and friends) will be "eulogizing" his life.
I recently wrote a list of the many ways that my father has influenced my life for the good. This is my grateful-to-God celebration of how heaven has blessed my life with favor and formation.
My father raised his family taking us to church every Sunday; saying prayers around the table at every meal; joining in prayers at bedside when we were tucked in and kissed goodnight. He taught us to serve by volunteering; teaching us to give generously through his own example; teaching us to save and spend wisely. He demonstrated an honoring spirit of love and devoted service to our mother; showing a championing heart for investing in his children and grandchildren's lives to set them up to succeed in education.
My father modeled a gracious and validating spirit of all people, always seeing the best in others; helping to serve in community civic organizations in addition to his devoted church work.
Making people feel special has been a permanent accent of his life. Raising people up to achieve their full potential has been his well-established legacy that will outlive his life.
My father's heart is summed up so well by the Apostle Paul: "Children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well" (2 Corinthians 12:14-15 NIV).
This is the heart and desire that lives in our Heavenly Father. That's why the Bible says God has "Blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing." (Ephesians 1:3 NIV).
To be "blessed" is to be eulogized. It doesn't just happen when you die and people say nice things about you. It actually means to be "endowed with the ability to succeed; to provide benefits."
That's why we can say with confidence, "God has set us up to succeed!" He most frequently uses his people to endow our lives with favor, blessing, empowerment, encouragement, strength and hope.
God held nothing back when he offered us new life in Jesus. In fact, Jesus painted the most amazing vision of God's unstoppable love and unyielding giving for two sons who were each lost and estranged in their own way: " 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.' " (Luke 15:31 NIV).
Thank you, most glorious and loving Heavenly Father! Thank you, most precious and sacred earthly Dad! Together, you have made my life possible, hopeful, gratifying and deeply rewarding.
I have been well eulogized! What you have done for me, I will now spend my life doing for others.
-- Rev. David Parker is lead pastor at Central United Protestant Church in Richland.