Earlier in the year, I woke up to four inches of snow that blanketed frozen rain on the ground. I planned on taking double the time to drive up north for the nursing contract I was working in a Dallas suburb. As a Michigan native, I was used to the weather but still feared other drivers who see these conditions once or twice a year and attempt to be a cowboy and brave the elements.
So, there was plenty of time to think on the way in. There were times when my heart raced as a pickup in front of me went sideways, or when I saw an 18-wheeler in the ditch. I kept saying to myself, my goal is to get there safely, not to get there quickly.
This helped me be patient and drive carefully as I thought of my wife and kids back home. Two of my four children were battling the flu. More than getting to a destination expediently, they eventually needed me back home.
Making Sacrifices To Provide
As my tires rumbled over the chunky ground, my mind warped back decades in time. I recalled as a kid seeing my dad leave out the door every morning in the winter so that he could provide for us. One time he was in a car accident on his way to work. He was driving a car that had been given to us by a family member. It was a total loss. But God provided another vehicle for us.
I also remember the many times my dad crawled under our trailer and took a heater, heat tape, or a hair dryer to thaw our water lines in the subzero weather. While I didn’t understand the significance of that back then, I have a greater appreciation of the amazing sacrifices my dad made to take care of our family.
At one point in time, I would’ve never thought of calling my dad a hero. Growing up, I was often bitter because we couldn’t afford the name brand clothing or food. I despised that we lived on government subsidies. I was humiliated by our living conditions. I was hurt often by the fighting and anger I saw in our home. Those memories will never leave. But they don’t have the same bite that they once had.
Caring For Us Spiritually
I kept driving and my mind kept wandering as I gazed into the foggy distance ahead. I remembered at an early age how my dad, even though he struggled tremendously with anger that I despised and suffered greatly from PTSD as a Vietnam War Veteran, he always took care of us spiritually. We were in church Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday nights. There were times he attempted doing devotions with us as a family.
My most vivid spiritual memory with my father was when he led my brother Tim to Jesus. I too knew that I was a sinner and wanted to be saved. So that day, as a 5 year old boy, I knelt at my bedside with my dad and confessed my sin to my Father in heaven and asked Jesus to come into my heart.
Confessing Sin & Asking Forgiveness
It was the best I knew how to commit my life to Christ. That defining moment has shaped how I view every aspect of my life. It has kept me from numbing my pain with sexual sins, alcohol, drugs, social life, technology, and whatever other idols I could have made. That decision has helped me return to Jesus when I have tried to find life in other places. Above all, that decision has helped me forgive my dad and others who have harmed me over the years.
I can still remember my dad weeping at my bedside, running his fingers through my brown childish hair one night because his heart was torn from the way that he constantly struggled with losing his temper. He hated his sin that he had difficulty controlling. But he still loved me.
Being A Light to Others
As I pressed on toward my destination, I thought about heroes. I certainly didn’t want to be driving to work so early in the morning, especially as I was up several times helping my own son manage his symptoms of the flu, and knowing my wife was home caring for my oldest daughter who was really sick. But I had to do what was necessary to take care of my family.
I also thought of the people I would be serving at work, how God would use me, like he used my own father, to be a light to others. So I kept driving. And I thought about all my dad did for me, and all he has done for others. And it dawned on me like never before what a hero my dad has always been.