I couldn't have friends over to play or study because when I came home, I never knew which dad would be there: the brilliant boss who managed nearly a thousand men at the phosphate mine, who developed two original patents, and who had a million man-hours clocked without a lost-time accident; or the falling-down drunk who stank of vomit and sour sweat from beer or whiskey.
Mom loved Jesus. Dad loved sin. What a pair they were. What a home I had. But it was this family that made me who I am.
One thing about dad: he was a man's man. He loved to hunt and fish and gamble. To me, he resembled John Wayne - a man who took immediate action to solve problems.
He meant what he said and he never repeated himself. As a child in his home, I never even thought about resisting his authority. “Son, go back and close that door the way it was meant to be closed.” “Yes-sir!”
Mom would come to our bedroom and say, “Boys, time to get up for breakfast or you’ll be late for school.” Dad would walk in the room; flip the covers from the bed; and say, “Feet on the floor.” Suddenly you found yourself standing beside the bed with your bare feet on the cold wooden floor, not even sure how you got there, but awake, vertical, and shivering.
Concerning church, dad thought it was for women, despite the pastor calling on him often. Since dad had no lace on his drawers, he stayed away from church. He gambled, drank, and ran around with his non-believing profane bar buddies. But he always brought home the paycheck and always respected mom’s faith.
Mom was the one who got us boys to church, not dad. She was the one who taught us how to pray and she imparted real faith in the God of the Bible. Dad believed in God but he never came to terms with Jesus, at least not until much later. Dad was a good example of how to be a strong leader and achieve goals. I learned from him some things not to do, because I chose Jesus instead of sinful ways.
Late in life, after mom had gone to heaven, dad was infirm and placed in a nursing home. Something occurred and a bone in his leg was fractured so my brother went by to sign a release for surgery at the hospital.
When Don stepped into dad’s room, as he later told me, “I saw the Holy Spirit resting on him.” Discerning that the opportune time had arrived for which we had both prayed fervently for many years, Don said to dad, “Dad, you need to be saved. That’s why I’m here.” Dad answered, “I know it.”
In a stroke of brilliance, Don used a lawyer’s argument to lead dad to Christ. He told him, “Dad, God could not be just and forgive your sins unless He had first taken your sins and put them on Jesus on the cross.” “Do you understand that?” “Yes, I do,” dad replied. “Are you ready to receive Jesus as your Savior?” “Yes, I am.” And the rest is history.
I am quite sure mom was surprised with joy to see dad enter heaven and be reunited with her, but heaven will have lots of surprises for all of us. God is faithful. God answers prayer. And, God’s grace is amazing!
Ron Wood is a pastor, writer, and former Meridianite. Contact him with questions or comments at email@example.com