A NEW LEARNING - Today would have been my father's 94th birthday. He died in May of 2008 but before he died one of the letters I wrote him was a three page tome seeking to address some the doubt that occasionally crept into his aging mind. Tina his sweetheart and wife for 66 years had passed away five months earlier. Although her memory had failed near the end, and although he was already living alone in his apartment, he was a brave and strong but lonely man. He generally kept his innermost feelings to himself. Here was page one of my letter.
"Dear Dad, I love you so much.
I know that life is more difficult during these years than you or anyone of us imagined it could be for you. Now that I am 65 years old I am very conscious of ageing and what that will mean for Christine and me. I think of you often in your apartment and missing the sweetheart of your life to whom you have been faithful for all these years.
It’s easy to say words about hope and heaven yet hard to find comfort when it feels so lonely. One of the truths that should comfort us is knowing that Jesus has gone ahead of us. He has been here and he has gone home. In fact he said that he was going away to prepare for us a place in His Father’s house where there are many mansions. He promised that he would come again to take us to be with him where he is. Some of us, perhaps you or mom or me or any one of your children and grandchildren may not have to wait for his actual return. We might die. In that way too he will receive us so we can be with him where he is. If we have a twinge of doubt, Jesus said, “You believe in God, Believe also in me.”
I can’t imagine living as long as you Dad. It would mean that I would have another 28 years. During that time, what could happen? I could lose my wife, one of my children, or God forbid, one of my grandchildren. A person could live in fear all the time. That’s why it seems to me that we should rely on the things we know for sure – the things God has said. The Bible is God’s Word. God’s people for centuries have counted on that.
In the book of Job is the story of a man who probably went through more heartache than all of us Unruhs put together. He lost all his children, his property everything. Still he didn’t curse God or turn away. Instead, he wrote some words that help us today. What happens when a believer dies? Job asked that very question and answered it for himself. But I will alter the subject slightly. Job 14:14 If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. 15 You (God) will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. 16 Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. 17 My offences will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin."