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Fathers and sons

Monday, March 19, 2007

2 Samuel 7:12
When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body.

I remember resting on the deck of the Billy Graham Retreat Center with my dad. We were sitting in rocking chairs. The sun was warm and sweet in the North Carolina forest. Cliff Barrows, one of Dad's favorite worship leaders, was heading up the particular seminar we were attending. The music was great. We were really enjoying ourselves.

Dad never said much. For once, though, he was talking about some of the decisions that had been made about farms and farming in our family's past. "I always wondered if you thought I treated you unfairly," he said.

For the last ten or so years of his life we tried to take trips like this each year. These were the kind of moments we hoped for, moments for discovering depths of love for each other that might otherwise have gone un-noticed. I kind of thought I'd treated him unfairly. I was really surprised to hear his words.

So we talked about it. Maybe we hugged a little; I know we were both smiling. He was mostly finished with his career; I was in the middle of mine. But what felt so good was being back in the center of "father and son." He loved me - committed and unconditional; and I loved him - because he cared about me, he took care of me, he was careful with me, and now he was letting me care for him.

When he died, Margaret and I sang "I'll Fly Away" at his funeral. He asked us to sing that song for him often. The last time was the best time. His ears seemed more open than ever, and his smile was wide.

You care for us forever, Lord. The dust we finally become is not dust to you. You make us and keep us, precious and whole. For whatever of that magic, transforming love you let me hold in my hands, thank you.

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