Frank Clark once said, “The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.” Based upon this quote, I’m not sure Mr. Clark is/was a believer in Christ, because although this is an important aspect of parenting, it is hardly the most important thing to teach your children. Today is the 15th anniversary of my father’s passing… As December 7th, 1941 will forever live as a “day of infamy” for the US, so August 16, 1996 lives as a day of infamy for the Breuer family.
It’s a curious thing, this idea of death… On one hand, for the believer it is complete freedom from the bondage of humanity into the open praise and adoration of the One who saves. An opening of an eye to actually see this One we have believed in by faith alone. On the other hand, for those who are left behind to mourn the loss of the person who has passed, it is a strange juxtaposition of feeling a black hole of mourning, all-the-while, praising God with hope because we know how blessed our loved one is in heaven. We long to see them again, but don’t dare ask that they leave their new home to come back to this broken home.
Today, although still sobering for me to remember the events of 15 years ago, I have a burdened heart for some friends and acquaintances who are currently dealing with the mortality of very close loved ones. A lump inevitably wells up in my throat because I know the pain they will endure, and are currently enduring, and believe me… it is absolutely NO fun. I am comforted by the thought that Jesus himself entered into the grief of Lazurus’ family when Lazurus died, and I know he does the same for us. It is times like these that I become painfully aware of the truth that this is not how God intended our world to be. Had sin not shattered the full, harmonious, perfect world God originally created, pain and the bitterness of loss would not have occurred. Death would not have been an issue. But, as it stands, God had to send a Rescuer to right the wrong. Thankfully, the sting of death is no more, but the reality of earthly death is still a daily struggle.
Fifteen years later, I am thankful for the way my father invested in me. I can still remember times he took to pull me aside and teach me something he felt was important. I do the same for my boys. He was ready to pounce on “teachable moments” no matter when they came, and I will forever be thankful for those lessons. As I have said before, he taught me a life’s worth of lessons in 13 short years.
Last night I was laying in bed, and I was thinking of him. I can still remember what it felt like to slip my small hand into his large, capable, rough hands. He was a hard worker, and his hands showed that, but they were always soft in their touch… I suspect because when he held my hand, there was evidence of his love for me. Even though memories fade, and details fade, there are so many things that are still so fresh in my mind.
I guess in sense, my dad did prepare us to live without him, but that was hardly the most important lesson he taught. He modeled how to love Jesus, how to love his wife and family, and how to stand up for what is right, no matter the cost. He was inspirational in life and continues to be inspirational in death.
So today, the juxtaposition continues in that, today was a bitter and heartbreaking day 15 years ago… a life-changing day that I would have preferred not to have happened at all, some days. However, I know that God has worked it out in a way that has continually glorified His name, and in the process sanctified me to make me more like Him. So was it all worth it? A resounding YES… Painful, heartbreaking, hard… but worth it.