Tribute to Abba

Father

My father peacefully entered his eternal rest Sunday afternoon surrounded by his wife and sons. He ran his race well and can now truly rest in peace. Here are some words I originally shared about him a few years ago for his 70th birthday:

As our family honors our father and grandfather on the occasion of his 70th year, we are blessed to celebrate with all of you. We often live with regret wishing we had said certain things to people in our lives while we still had the chance, so we are particularly grateful to do this together now.

Abba, in our childlike eyes you were always Superman, strong and full of protection. And though the years have passed, you are still that figure of strength to us, even as we have learned that you are not a superhero but a mere man, struggling in the same ways we all do. In both strength and weakness, you are a heroic figure to us and we look up to you in many ways.

We live in a society, though, that bestows positions of honor upon men who have earned the most money, reached the greatest levels of success in their professions, and attained great fame and notoriety for spectacular accomplishments. According to those measures of value and worth, some may be tempted to say you have not done as much as you could have with your life. However, your loved ones know you have left a far greater legacy than those shiny trinkets which so quickly turn to rust. For in a culture where men often shirk their responsibilities, you are an honorable man who committed before anything else to obey God first and after that love and provide for your family.

Through your life, we learned many valuable truths which pointed us to God but one trait particularly stands out: Sacrifice. Your family has enjoyed a rich and blessed life because you chose a different path, often to your own detriment. Your journey has not been an easy one but marked with many hard roads, which a lesser man could have avoided in self-preservation. You left behind a life that could have been marked with accomplishment, achievement and respect for a foreign land where things could never fully be home. You would never grasp the complexities of the language and there were probably some who in ignorance even questioned your intelligence, not knowing your high level of education. You would never find work that matched your great abilities but labored your body to the point of brokenness which remains with you to this day. Yet you never found reason to complain but worked hard every day, even being thankful that the monotonous nature of your work allowed you to think about Jesus throughout your day.

At the same time, you never allowed these responsibilities to become foremost in taking away from your relationships. You could have realistically earned more with certain work choices but you were wise to recognize that certain sacrifices are not worthy if it makes a daddy a stranger in his own home. And though you justifiably had a right to “your time”, that concept never existed in our home: those moments were always reserved for your family.

2 Corinthians 8:9 says “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich.” We never had to learn the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice from a theology book or sermon. We saw it lived out in portion in your life and it pointed us to worship Jesus.

So in your 70th year, you may not have many gold trophies to show off on your mantle but you have something of far greater worth to display. The greatest legacy you leave is two young boys who learned through their daddy’s words and example what it means to love Jesus with all their hearts. The Lord used you to build a solid foundation which prepared your sons to receive our own salvation from God. The Lord has privileged your sons to be used for His Kingdom in impacting others and in many ways, we can trace this back to a young man leaving his home 40 years ago to surrender his own life to God’s will. And those little boys have now grown into men who are trying to teach their own children to love and follow Jesus in the same way they were taught.

Abba, we thank you for being a man of honor who had a vision for a great legacy and we rejoice in what God has done through your life. Thank you!

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