MIDLOTHIAN, VA – My dad was one of the youngest in a family of 7 children. His older brothers were fighter pilots in World War II or soldiers on the front lines in Europe. His sisters helped out in the dress shop their mother ran. Dad was left to himself a lot and was trying to live up to the standard set by big brothers and sisters. As a result, dad joined the Marine Corp in 1952. It was maybe the hardest experience of his life and would impact him until the day he passed.
Mom and dad had three boys, I was the youngest, my sister would follow some 7 years later. We would get army fatigues (camos) for Christmas, taught to shoot and hunt at an early age, and the right of passage was when dad felt you were grown up enough he gave you one of his prized pocket knives. The very same day I got mine I cut my thumb wide open. Never did see that knife again. He took us camping and hiking. We went horseback riding and on fishing trips.
It is true what they say, over time we tend to remember more of the good than bad. Things weren’t always great in our home. Dad drove an eighteen wheel truck for a living. He would often leave out on Sunday evening and not return before late Friday night. We never had much money, though I confess it never seemed to matter. Life was a struggle. We moved a lot. But my memories remain focused on the good times.
One of the best times was on a Sunday night in June. Back then you went to church on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and again on Wednesday night. Besides the church service we had Sunday School, there was Training Union and of course choir practice. This particular Sunday evening was hot, and all of the stained glass windows were raised high to allow in the cool evening air as the preacher spoke. Well, I had been feeling something eating at me since the Sunday morning service. While I was unsure what it was all about when it came time for the invitation, I knew I needed to respond. Of course, when you are the youngest of three boys you are forced to sit as far away from the protection of mom and dad.
When I tried to step in front of my two brothers to get to the aisle they blocked me. When I tried to move behind them they again blocked me. By the time I climbed up into the seat portion of the pew my shoes were making enough racket both parents noticed. All the while inside I’m in fear of going to hell because of my brothers being brothers. I was crying and confused because the invitation had now ended. As we sat back down mom gave me a tissue to wipe my face. All I could think of was at least when I enter hell I won’t have snot dripping from my nose.
When the service ended dad, realizing what was going on, wrapped his big, muscular arms around me and walked me to the front. Pastor Perry was still there and I told him I wanted to be saved, if it wasn’t too late. That night the pastor and my dad took me into an empty Sunday School room and shared scripture with me. My dad led me in the prayer of salvation. You cannot imagine how I was beaming when we got in the car where the family had been waiting. I had not only bypassed hell, I met Jesus because my dad’s love led me to the throne.
What an amazing difference it made in my life. The following Sunday I asked my dad to accompany me as I walked to the front of the church during the invitation. Pastor Perry was smiling from ear to ear as he shook my hand and introduced me to the congregation. He also took a minute to reference my story from last Sunday night, including my two mischievous brothers. I was never more happy, and from that day forward my dad and I shared a special bond. Sure life was tough growing up, but the bad memories have faded away and the wonderful grace of God has continued to permeate my life all because my dad cared about Jesus enough to share Him with me. Happy Father’s Day, dad! I love you and miss you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom Scott is an adjunct professor at Liberty University. He lives in Midlothian, Va and is a contributor to the Baptist Beacon.