Thursday, September 10, 2015

Jasper Speaks:

What My Earthly Dad Taught Me About My Heavenly Father
As most of you know, my dad, Al Rains, went to be with the Lord in the early morning hours of July 2. There is a large hole left in my heart but being surrounded by family (both biological and church) has helped make this difficult time bearable. Most of all we do not mourn like those who have no hope. My father was the godliest man I ever knew. He dedicated his life to reaching the world for Christ. His theme song was the old hymn Send The Light. As we entered the worship Center on the day of his home going celebration that song was being played on the piano. If you are not familiar with it, here are the lyrics to the first verse:

“There’s a call comes ringing o’er the restless wave
Send the light, Send the light
There are souls to rescue; there are souls to save
Send the light, Send the light
Send the light, the blessed gospel light
Let it shine from shore to shore
Send the light, the blessed gospel light
Let it shine forevermore”

As I sit here today, that song is on a continuous track in my mind. It calls me to remember dad but to also reflect on what he taught me about my Heavenly Father through his example in life.

He Taught Me That My Heavenly Father’s Love is Without Condition
My Dad loved me. In all of my forty-five years I have never had a moment of doubt about that. He told me frequently. He showed me even more. My actions never controlled his reaction. He was my Dad and he loved me for who I am. He praised me when I did well, forgave me when I was hurtful and rebuked me when I was wrong. My Heavenly Father does the same. His word tells me that His love is everlasting and without condition. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. My dad modeled that characteristic of my Heavenly Father in a way I can only hope to model my own son. His example helped me understand God’s grace a bit more clearly.

He Taught Me That My Heavenly Father Cares Me
Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” My dad lived that promise out daily. In his earthly life he never had many things. He raised a family of five children on less than meager means. He was certain of his call to ministry and made many financial sacrifices to ensure he was true to that calling. He trusted God in a way I have not seen anyone else do so. He trusted that the money to feed his family or pay the next bill would come from his Heavenly Father’s bounty. He lived through the deaths of parents, siblings and grandchildren without questioning God’s providential care. In him I saw amazing faith that has led me to trust in Jesus not only with my heart but my entire life.

He Taught Me That All Lives Matter To My Heavenly Father
My parent’s life was one of service to “the least of these”. My father spent 47 years as the pastor of a small, inner city congregation. He and my mother were literally the hands and feet of Jesus to people many ignore. In their ministry hundreds accepted Christ and many went on to serve the Lord vocationally. In my father’s passion for people I learned that my Heavenly Father loves everyone and wants them to come to know Him. That person on the side of the road with a cardboard sign --- God created them and loves them. That annoying person at work --- God created them and loves them. That person of another race, ethnicity, political viewpoint, sexual orientation, or class --- God created them and loves them. In my earthly Father I saw eyes of compassion for the lost. My dad taught me this simple truth: Life isn't about the things you have but rather about the people you reach. I grew to understand that my Heavenly Father cares for every person on this planet and if I care for them, they will be drawn to Him.

In the end, there is not enough room in this newsletter to tell you all the things my earthly Father taught me about my Heavenly Father. My prayer is that as I realize those many things, I will remember the godly man who God entrusted to teach me about himself. I pray that I am teaching my own son these things as well. In the end of a life well lived, it is the legacy of the lives touched that continue into eternity. My dad touched many lives. May we all be striving to do the same.