When I saw you last you laid in a comfortable room all of your own in a beautiful home. The first time I walked through it I knew Jesus had hand-picked that home and that room just for you.
Dad, you would have loved it. Your room kept watch over a gorgeous collection of plants and flowers in the big backyard. Oh, how I wanted to be able to walk through the gardens with you, enjoying the sunshine and the beauty of every rose and daisy.
No doubt our conversation would have meandered with the gardens. We’d eventually ponder much weightier issues like the world’s problems and how to solve them. We always had the answers, didn’t we?
And our conversation would have invariably settled on the mysteries of the universe, and of God. This conversation would have gone very differently than all the others, though.
For thirteen years I prayed for you.
And when we were finally able to enjoy those weekly gabfests on the phone I did my best to steer as many conversations as possible toward the Lord. I tried to explain to you historically, intellectually, logically and emotionally why Jesus is the only way to salvation, the only way to heaven. And you’d always say you were trying.
The end of every conversation would come, and I’d let my words offering you Christ hang in the air as a gift, desperately hoping you’d take them, but you never did. I always hung up thinking if only I’d said it differently...
If I could have I would have forced them on you as a parent forces a child to eat his broccoli and drink his milk.
Soon after you had gone, I realized the mistake I’d made all those years. And all I wanted to do was grasp one day to do it over. If I could I would have done it all over. I’d trade in some of those conversations, some of those awkward attempts at apologetics, and take a meal to you.
I’d take a jar full of jelly beans to your apartment and set it on the table next to your chair. While I was there I would have cleaned your apartment and done some laundry, if you’d let me. I’d frame some pictures of your grandsons and hang them on the wall.
I’d buy you a proper journal so you didn’t have to write your soulful words on the scraps of paper and backs of old envelopes we found scattered around your apartment. I’d have you over for dinner more often so Eric and Sean could get to know you better. We still grin and tell each other your favorite joke: So a horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Why the long face?” I can still hear that high-pitched almost giggle you reserved for jokes you thought were especially hilarious.
I would have shown you the love of Jesus I tried so desperately to tell you about. I thought I’d have enough time, but I didn’t.
Time is always short.
You might not have let me do those things, but I wish I had tried. I wish I had used the short time we had together to show you how much I loved you and how much I appreciated you. I would have shown you that you were worth loving and you were worth dying for.
I loved our conversations, but I wish I had used the time putting feet to my words, enriching both our lives even more. And maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t have taken until just five days before you went to be with Jesus to give Him your heart. Maybe those acts of love would have opened your eyes to the truth sooner. But they were opened, and I am so grateful.
You taught me that lesson, Dad. I don’t always remember it, but you taught me that life is short, and sometimes it’s over much sooner than we ever thought it would be. And sometimes our words are just words until we bring them to life.
I can picture you now, tending the garden of your dreams and having long conversations with everyone who stops by to smell the roses. I'll be there soon. And when I am, I’m coming to your house, Dad, the one prepared just for you. I’ll clean it, top to bottom. I'll set a crystal vase overflowing with fresh flowers on your table. I’ll bring you some jelly beans and we’ll talk.
Your loving daughter, @
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18