Friday, July 8, 2016

On Hope and Wisdom and Fathers

My father was a deeply intellectual and profoundly faithful Christian man. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when I was twelve . . . retired from teaching when I was fifteen . . . was in a nursing home when I was twenty-one.

Which means that by the time I was old enough to recognize the wisdom I wanted to glean from him, it was no longer there for the gleaning.

This has been a regret of mine. I have several times over the years mourned the lost lessons I could have learned from my father. This week is one of those times. Today, I wish I could ask my father this question:

How do you maintain hope?

My father had very high expectations and strict morals. I remember him telling me, with disgust, about the students in his college years who attended school dances -- such things were quite inappropriate, in his mind. I can only imagine the horror he felt at the moral decay he saw happening as a professor on his college campus during the 60s.

He was a naval officer in the Pacific in World War II. I can only imagine the frustration he felt at the anti-war protests of the 60s and 70s.

And I specifically remember his spitting out the label "crook"  when referring to Richard Nixon.

Between the sexual revolution, government corruption, civil rights violence, and Vietnam, it had to feel to him like the country was imploding. Going to hell in a handbasket.

Just like it feels to me now.

How do you maintain hope, Dad?

Intellectually, I can know God is in control. I can know that the country has been through worse and survived. I can know that God's plan and purpose are bigger than our country.

But I'm tired of feeling sad and hopeless.

Did Dad feel like God was judging the nation, like I feel? Did he cry out to God for mercy for a people who never deserved the grace He has shown them, like I do? Did he sit and think that there must be something to be done . . . something he could do . . . some answer to the crises . . . and feel lost when no answer came to him but pray, love, pray, speak truth, pray, pray, pray . . .

. . . like I do?

We need wise fathers today. Wise mothers. God grant us mercy, and grant us wise fathers and mothers. And grants us ears to hear them.

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