I didn’t intend to leave you all hanging by a question mark on my last post. But before I tell you how Phil Vischer’s story spoke to my heart’s cry to be famous (for God 🙂 ), I want to tell you another story.
Just before we knew my dad was sick, he resigned from his position as the worship leader of our church to do pastoral care and focus on his leadership of our church’s Celebrate Recovery ministry. No one forced him to change jobs; the decision was his. Even though he’d been leading people in worship for over forty years, he made the transition a lot easier than my mom and I did. It was hard for me to think of him doing anything other than what I’d always known him to do. I felt a little lost, but he was more excited about what he believed God had called him to do than I’d seen him in many years.
Life was good.
And then suddenly, it wasn’t.
Dad had barely scratched the surface on his list of dreams to do when he was diagnosed with cancer. He left for Christmas vacation and never came back to work again.
On the big, long list of Things I Don’t Understand About What Happened and Why, the death of my dad’s new dream for ministry has been near the top of the list. I truly believe that everything my dad wanted to do in this next phase of his ministry were of pure and unselfish motives. He wanted to do big things for God. I believe God gave him those dreams. Then why on earth would He take my dad before he’d had a chance to see them come to fruition? It just didn’t seem fair.
Then I ran smack dab into Chapter 21 of Me, Myself, and Bob. In the first part of the chapter, Phil talks about when he wrestled with why God didn’t save his company. Certainly plenty of mistakes were made by plenty of people, but Big Idea was a GREAT idea! Why didn’t God do anything to stop Phil’s dream from falling apart? In my heart, I asked, “Why didn’t God stop my dad from dying? Why didn’t He let him live out the dreams he still had left?”
In the chapter Phil explains that many of us were raised to believe that we should always be busy doing great things for God. And I always believed that the bigger, the better. But then Phil quoted a young pastor who said, “If God gives you a dream, and the dream comes to life and God shows up in it, and then the dream dies, it may be that God wants to see what is more important to you–the dream or him.”
Right after I read that quote, I thought about a video that was played at the end of my dad’s funeral. His favorite hymn was “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and the video is of my dad singing that song with the choir right before he resigned from the music ministry. Something about my dad’s intensity in that video struck me. My dad was a worshipper, but in this song there was an urgency about the way he was singing, especially towards of the end of the song.
Suddenly, I realized that God was more interested in my dad’s passion for Him than He was in my dad’s biggest dreams for God. In my dad’s face as he sang that song, I saw that my dad’s ministry was not about what great things He could accomplish for God, it was just about God. As my dad sang about God’s faithfulness to him, I saw that no dream in the world came close to the love he had for God. And my dad’s love for Him was more important to God than what my dad wanted to do for him. My dad left this world at the top of his game, in the center of God’s will. Yes, God was faithful to my dad. And my dad was faithful to His God.
My dad was sad to leave us, but he was ready for Heaven. The last time he was discharged from the hospital to begin home hospice care, he told my mom that he was ready to go home. My mom said there was something about the way he said it that made her ask which home. With tears in his eyes, he pointed up. He’d fought the good fight; he’d done what God asked him to do. He was ready to go home. I’ve focused a lot of my pain on the fact that God didn’t answer my prayer the way I wanted. This weekend I realized that he answered my dad’s prayer instead. It was time and God and Dad were both ready.
Suddenly, all the pieces fell perfectly into place and the answers to all of my biggest questions were written in the sky on fluffy, white clouds.
Yeah, I’m just kidding. But ever so tenderly God touched one of the bruised and bleeding places in my heart, not because He had to, but because He cares about me. I may not have all of the details exactly right, but I know that in my pain, God spoke healing. He replaced a little of my confusion with His peace. He reassured me that He will continue to walk me through this…one step at a time.
*MGO stands for My Grief Observed. They are posts I write about my grief over my dad moving to Heaven and leaving me here.