Monday, October 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day 25: A father to the fatherless

Right away, may I say that my Dad is fine! He is on a trip to India, where he got to visit Nagaland and many former students in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

But the day before he left it seems like some of the circumstances in my life became quite topsy-turvy. While Dave Epp and a couple of his friends were wrapping up their regular Monday morning meeting at the TH, I got the phone call from Mike that Andy was in the hospital, that he had, in fact, suffered a minor stroke.

Without hesitation Dave enveloped me in a comforting hug and he and his friends immediately prayed for Andy and for his recovery.

Dad and I went to Calgary shortly thereafter; and before Dad had to make final preparations for his trip, he got to spend some hours with Andy.

During these subsequent days, Dave has been an enormous encouragement and source of wisdom and guidance and strength for me. He was already scheduled to take Dad's Tuesday morning study at the Manor -- and in his three devotionals he reassured me of the power and omniscience of the eternal God. What a way to put things in perspective!

When I was questioning something I had heard in a sermon one Sunday, he gave me context; and when I wondered aloud about the motivation of a leader, Dave gently reminded me that it was not for us to judge - I could almost hear my Dad speaking thus to me too!

Dave and my Dad go back over 50 years; Dave mentioned that he was actually at the train station with the group of people who were seeing Dad off on the first leg of his journey to India in 1959! Dave and Shirley were such treasured friends of Dad and Mum. At one point Shirley and Mum were in the hospital at the same time; and when God released Shirley from all the pain and suffering she endured on this earth, Mum and Dad felt her loss to us who remained just as keenly as though she were their sister. Dave in turn ministered to Dad when Mum joined Shirley in heaven four years later.

Dave is a fascinating man: a missionary himself for many years, in his retirement he has taken on the chaplaincy of the Three Hills Health Centre; a heart attack survivor, this year he did a 200-km bike ride for cancer in honour of Shirley. He is sought out for his spiritual knowledge and insight. He likes both bowling and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. He's always up for an adventure, and he and his daughter have a major one planned for next year!

Thanks to Dave, in the last few weeks I have come to understand to a small extent the verse where God says that He will be "a father to the fatherless." When I read that verse previously I thought it was more cerebral, more spiritual than practical. But during these days when my own father has been out of reach for the most part and I needed the physical presence of a dad, God has graciously provided the perfect stand-in.

So in this month of thankfulness I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to a wonderful, wise, funny, caring man. Thank you, Dave.

1 comment:

  1. COMMENT FROM ANDY: I would suggest, with my usual arrogance, that there is a problem with the wording of paragraph 4 of your your Oct. 25th post: you note that your father got to spend some hours with Andy. A more acurate rendering would state that Andy got to spend a few hours with your father. I have been fortunate enough to have known your 'Dad for something over ten years and in all that time I have never failed to feel amazed by him. I would say, without prejudice to the other wonderful people I have known, that your father is the most remarkable person I have ever met. I have never come away from a conversation with him without feeling that I am better for the experience. Until I heard him speak for the first time, at your grandmother's funeral, I was convinced that Barbara Jordan, the First Black woman to serve in the United States senate, was the benchmark for all other public speakers, on that day your father knocked her off of that pedestal. In all the times I have heard your father speak since then, I have never doubted the change in my opinion. I think my recovery from that series of 'mild strokes' was complete when I opened my eyes in the hospital and saw your father at my bedside. To me, he is the standard for generosity, kindness and humility that all of us should strive to emulate -- the world will be a better place if we do. What else could God want but that the world be a better place.


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