I’m lucky. I had a Dad I could trust. With everything. He wasn’t perfect, but I knew I could give him the most precious things in my life and he would keep them safe.
The accompanying photo is of our family pretending to be Dutch sometime in 1967. We were driving around Holland enjoying the tulips and that cheese with the red wax on it.
Here are two other snapshots of my Dad. Shortly after our Holland trip we moved from an Air Force base in Germany back to Canada. After visiting with family in Ontario, we set out in our Volkswagon van for Vancouver Island where Dad had been stationed. As we drove he told us stories about what it would be like there on the island. Untamed wilderness, trees older than the Bible, mighty and raging oceans, wild bears, and salmon bigger than beavers.
We were heading into a place that was completely unknown and new, but in spite of that, and I remember sleeping in the backseat of that van as we drove, cozy and comfortable, not afraid of a thing. Why? Because, I trusted him. Wherever Dad was taking us would be OK. Because it was Dad that was taking us.
Snapshot two. A cottage outside of Harrowsmith just north of Kingston that he and my Mom had just bought. It sat about 100 feet above Desert Lake and he declared the day we got there that he was going to build stairs all the way down to the water. He began to build forms out of wood. I couldn’t imagine how he was going to do it. But, we worked with him, my brother and sisters and Mom, and we trusted that he knew what he was doing. Somehow, he saw a bigger picture that we couldn’t yet see.
And sure enough, after we mixed and then poured all that concrete, and pounded off all those wooden forms, and there lay fifty feet of beautiful concrete stairs, spiraling down a jagged rock face to the shore of the lake. Impressive.
There’s a message the Bible brings. You can trust God just as you would trust your Dad. We are all children of this God because we are created in his image. And because he’s God, he sees a bigger picture of our lives that we do. Even though oftentimes we don’t understand his direction, we are called to listen and trust that he knows what he’s doing.
One last snapshot. This one’s not of my Dad, but more of something he taught me to believe.
Ten years ago we moved from a house on Hume St in Collingwood to the house where we are now in Nottawa. The day we moved, we had all kinds of help, friends who so graciously showed up to lug stuff out, and then in again. And because we didn’t have that far to go, just a couple of kilometers, things weren’t packed with a great deal of care. Jethro, Jed, Elly May and Grannie heading down country.
The next day, I went back to the house to pick up a few odds and ends, and I’m standing in the empty house. It’s a strange, poignant thing. Standing in the house, the day after, and it’s empty, and all the stuff that you’ve lived with for years is now gone.
So much had happened in that house. The first time I met Kimberley was in that house, when I took Ian and Taylor over to talk about piano lessons, and we ended talking about a lot of other things. After we were married, we wondered how the six of us were going to all fit together in it.
I remember all the events and turning points that happened in that house. The grade 8 and grade 12 graduations, the birthday parties, the dinners with friends. The bush out front of the house, a flowering almond, that blooms every May, beautiful pink blossoms. Every year we’d get a picture of Haven standing out in front of it.
And then, comes the day when the house is empty, and you stand in that emptiness. And what happens is you remember the past but you also wonder about the future.
Not just for me, and my family, but, for all of you as well, because there are times for all of us when we stand in the empty houses of our lives. The past will be the past, but you also wonder, what will the future hold?
All of us go through times when we move from one life into another. In some way, each one of us today is transitioning from one way of life into the next way of life. Because life never stands still but always flows.
And, what you will notice, and you go through life, is that there are people who have hope as they stand in the empty houses of their lives, and then, there are people who have no hope as they stand in their empty houses.
The people who have hope have a strength and a peace, knowing that there are good things to come, and the people who have no hope are afraid because they aren’t sure of what’s to come.
And the difference is trust. Do you trust that God will give you what is good, and what you need, in the days ahead? Do you have the faith that God’s got you in his hand, even as you travel into a wilderness dark and cold with towering trees older than the Bible? Do you trust that you are a son, a daughter, of God?
The old house on Hume St is not empty anymore. Melissa Luongo, a chiropractor, lives in it now. It’s been a full and happy place for years. We still wave at it every time we go by, and we miss the memories it still holds, but we’re glad it’s full.
But each of us today, in some way, is standing in an empty house. You’re remembering the past, and wondering about what tomorrow will hold. And whether you are 18 or 80, today is the beginning of the rest of your life. You haven’t yet unpacked everything. You haven’t yet seen how it will finally be. But you will.
If you can find a way to trust God, who is your perfect Father, you know that there will be a day when you will finally see the big and perfect picture that God has seen all along.
My Dad, no, he wasn’t perfect. But he knew enough to teach me this. And I am forever grateful.