Remembering The Important
My dad is one of the most amazing people that I have had the honor of knowing on this earth. He was raised a farmer. He joined the military and served this country as a Marine. He then became a pastor. He has taught me many things during my lifetime. The most important thing he has taught me is to love the Lord, Jesus Christ with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I remember many nights when we would watch boxing on television and then talk about theology afterwards. He exemplifies what it means to me to be a pastor. He has very big shoes to fill for being not that big of a guy. He is the example in this world that I look to when I think about training to go into ministry.
Before my wife and I were married, almost seven years ago, my dad came down with frontal temporal dementia. This affects his short term memory. He is not supposed to even remember my name now but he is doing well. He remembers not only my name but he jokes around with me, we talk about baseball, and most often theology. It is interesting to me that my wife has never known my dad without him having dementia. This all struck home the other day when I wanted to do some fun reading so I picked up a random John Piper book that my dad had given me awhile ago. I opened it and started flipping through it. I am used to opening books that my dad has given me and seeing a couple of underlined parts and a few notes. This book, however, is torn up. It looks as if a tornado got hold of a pencil and scribbled over the entire thing. There is so much underlining and a huge amount of notes. I almost have to sit and decipher his words from Piper’s. My dad wrote down his own personal reflections, prayers, and thoughts about God.
I thought all of this was very interesting. Why was this book so much more marked up than any other book I remember him giving me? And he has given me a lot of books. He used to be an independent used book seller too. Then I opened the book to the front cover. There I found, drawn in pencil, a heart. Inside the heart it said, “Scott & Lindzy.” My mind was pretty much blown. The conclusion I had was this: Even though my dad has dementia, which is slowly deteriorating his mind, he is still trying to teach me. He has taken it upon himself to speak to me through his own words and through the words of others. I think he knows that I still need training and guidance. He has given me a great gift. I can see his words next to the words of another great man of faith and almost hear him say, “Scott, you really need to pay attention to this part. Have you taken this into consideration? Isn’t God great? I love you.”
As I sit here, in the little cafe that I frequent, writing this I cannot help but think of the Old Testament authors. They tell about how the people of Israel would set up monuments made out of stones. This was to remind them of what God did for them. When their kids asked what that big stack of rocks was for they would explain the story of how God providing for their people (Joshua 4:9, 1 Samuel 7:12). True, what I am talking about is not really the same thing at all. However, when I see all of these notes my dad made in this book, and I look at the inscription with my wife and I’s names on the cover, I can’t help but think that he made all of these notes to specifically give my wife and I instruction and counsel where in a couple of years he may not physically be able to do it any more. It feels like he is giving me my own personal monument. It’s as if he is saying, “Remember what the Lord has done for you. I’ve done my best to teach you. Don’t forget.” This experience has made me remember how much my dad, not only loves me but, wants to continue to give me spiritual truth. He wants me to remember the Lord’s love for me. Remember.