Lessons from a Dad: Part 1 Jesus is Better Than You Can Ever Imagine
Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus is the same, yesterday to day and forever.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
This blog post is the second in a series I thought I’d write after reflecting on the 20th anniversary of my dad’s death. I’m want my two girls to learn through my grief, so I am writing specially to them. If you have not read the first article, I would encourage you to start there. You can find it here: https://fbcira.com/blogs/2464693–may-3-2000 or here: https://moorewordsfromben.wordpress.com/ I have been writing devotional blogs for the church, since the coronavirus has limited our physical gathering. I hope they are a blessing to you and that they point to Jesus.
As I sit here as a 30 year old, I try to place myself in my dad’s shoes. He was my age when He found out he had cancer. I look back at that time and read the notes and articles he left me and my brother. I’m realizing that being intentional in life is something that I learned from this situation and has stuck with me. It’s also something I want to be better at. It’s a lesson I want to leave my girls with. So, each of these points are all wrapped up in the idea of not simply drifting through life, being tossed by the waves that come, and blown in whatever direction the wind is blowing. As someone who has grown up in the Texas Panhandle and currently lives in West Texas, I understand that not being tossed by the wind is really difficult at times. In my experience, it is not normally the gust of wind that blows in and throws you off course. It is the constant 10 mile an hour wind that never relents, that is always present, and that never ceases. That’s what will push you to a path of floating and being guided by circumstances.
As someone who strives to be a Gospel-centered Christian, I know the Lord’s hand is in everything in life. So, Addi and Bryn (and others who are reading this open letter), Lesson 1 from Dad is: Jesus is better than you could ever imagine.
Be intentional with your relationship with Jesus. I was baptized a few days before my dad’s death. I was saved at a revival held at First Baptist Church, Panhandle. I honestly don’t remember who was the preacher; I don’t really even remember the message. All I remember doing is turning to my mom and dad and saying “I am ready”. We walked up to the front and talked to the preacher. He asked me a few questions, we set up a time to be baptized, and that was that.
I look back, now, and see how God’s sovereign hand in that moment. He was preparing me for what was to come. Dad had been given 6 month to live… 2 years ago. I didn’t know it at the time, but he had been given good reports by doctors. There was some hope that he might live longer, who knows, maybe even fully recover. I am beyond blessed that God did not allow me to fall into the trap of thinking that only good things happen to you after salvation. One of the first things that happened after my salvation was that Dad died. Now what? This makes wrestling with the question “why do bad things happen?” real and personal. I had done the right things, I filled out the card, I walked down the aisle, I prayed the prayer, And I was baptized. My dad STILL died.
Girls, Jesus is better than you could ever imagine. I am blessed to say that I grew up and had a church that pointed me to Jesus. I had a family that became intentional about being with Jesus. I didn’t become a Christian to avoid the hard times of life, rather, I was saved by Jesus and almost immediately forced by life’s circumstances to lean on Him to sustain me in the midst of those hard times. This doesn’t mean that the hard times in life are now easy, or even absent. This doesn’t mean I have never questioned things in my life. This doesn’t mean that I have not spent nights weeping and mourning. What this means, though, is my faith is in the Unshakable Rock that is Jesus. I am fully aware my circumstances could turn at any moment. The bottom could fall out of my life. I rest in the fact that Jesus is better than you could ever imagine. He is the same yesterday today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is the offering for our sin so that we can be made right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus is better than you could ever imagine. And Jesus gives us good news – the Gospel. He died in my place. When that news takes hold of your heart, it not only saves you, it sustains you. The gospel is for believers as much as it is for unbelievers. I can look back at my life and see the dark times, death of dad, the deaths of all my biological grandmas and grandpas, deaths of family members, miscarriages, a broken engagement, the list goes on and on. Truth be told, you will have a list, too, girls. You life will be marked with brokenness. This will happen to you. Circumstances will be hard. Not all the time, but enough to keep you on your toes. Trust in the One who is beyond life’s circumstances. Lean into Jesus. He is better than you could ever imagine. The more you grow in Him, the more you learn about Him, the closer your relationship with Him becomes, the better He looks in your eyes and heart.
You biggest issue in life will not be your circumstances. The bad things that will happen are not the biggest hurdle in life. This is the secret to joy and peace. Our hearts deceive us into thinking maybe if “I could just have this or that”, “if my house was bigger”, “if my car was newer”, “if my kids were more obedient, “if I got more sleep”, “if my job paid more”, “if my coworkers listened to me”, “if my boss was smarter than me”… Whatever it is, our hearts deceive us into thinking circumstances dictate joy and peace. That is a lie. Much like Pharaoh when Moses was sent by God to set the Israelite’s free, your circumstances will either harden your heart to the things of the Lord OR it will break your heart and point you to Jesus. You biggest hurdle in life is that you are born a sinner, separated from God.
Addi and Bryn, you are both 50% your dad (Bryn, you might be 51%). This means that you are very much a sinner. Your mom is so much better than me in just about every single aspect of life. I mean, I’m better at board games than she is, but that‘s about it. What this means for you is your biggest issue is that naturally, by birth and by the choices you make, you are separated from the One who can save. The hardest part of being a father is the fact that I can point you to Jesus, I can pray for you to be saved, but I cannot save you. Only Jesus can; He has made a way!
Salvation is near and the path has been laid. It requires killing your pride and repenting. Putting your faith and trust in Jesus and in Jesus alone. This is a life-long journey. The Lord continues to expose your heart to His Word often through circumstances. Trust that the Lord is good and joy can be found in the hard times. Peace can be found in the hard times. God disciplines the ones He loves (Hebrew 12). Girls (and others), Jesus is better than you could ever imagine. It is important in this life to be intentional. It is vital for eternal life to be intentional with Jesus.
P.S. My goal with these, first and foremost, is to help edify the church I pastor. At the moment, I try to release a blog on Tuesday and on Thursday. To anyone who ends up reading this, I am currently preaching through the book of Lamentations. This book is filled with raw suffering. If that is something you wrestle with and you do not have a church home and live in the area, I invite you to join us on Sundays at 11am. If you’re not in the area, let me encourage you to check out our live stream of our church service. It can be found on Ira Baptist Church’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/irabaptist
Also, we store sermons on our church website and they can be heard here: https://fbcira.com/sermons.
I am always available to talk. If you need someone, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.