Kevin and I were talking yesterday about our fathers. His passed away suddenly almost a year ago of a heart attack. My father had his first heart attack ten years ago but had a bypass and survived. Since then he’s had a couple more heart attacks (mild), gone through various stent placements and procedures, and now has a pacemaker. I got a note from him recently, and the first thing I noticed was the change in his penmanship which I could tell was written with a shaky hand. He commented on it as well, noting that he’s “gotten nervous since Jesus didn’t want him yet” (referring to the most recent brush with death that led to the pacemaker implantation). I need to get down to visit him soon. I want to talk about that comment.
So back to my talk with Kevin. I mentioned that I wished his dad had pulled through and been given another ten years. And then I started wondering why that gift was given to my father. I don’t pretend to know the mind of God, but I think I know one of the reasons why he was granted more time: God is giving my dad an opportunity to extend forgiveness to others. For as long as I’ve known him, my father has held bitterness in his heart toward those who have hurt him (and there have been quite a few). Whether he deserved what he got or not is irrelevant, because forgiveness is not an option. Right after teaching his disciples how to pray the Lord’s prayer, Jesus went on to say, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
I think, too, of that verse about God “restoring the years the locusts have eaten” and about bitterness as locusts eating away at a person’s soul. So much loss, so much needless pain, so many wasted years. But God keeps his promises. When we return, He restores us. I had some “locust years” myself and can honestly say they have been restored. I want to see my father receive the same restoration. So I pray for God’s timing and wisdom, and an opportunity (the sooner the better) to visit him and talk about these things.