I wrote this in 2009. It still fits.
Okay, so may be hate is too strong a word. Then again, maybe not.
August 1st will always be significant. August 1, 1978 to be specific.
I was traveling with our college ministry team and we’d just returned from an overnight at a camp meeting. The week before had been difficult. I’d managed to wreck one of the two team vehicles. Minor car damage; no one hurt. But after our Saturday night concert wrapping up a youth rally at a church in Flint, Michigan. The family of three of the youth attending our event were in a tragic car accident. Both parents were killed, the three children survived. Sunday morning was difficult as we tried to minister to the congregation of that church.
Monday we headed up to the camp meeting and returned on Tuesday morning. I was with two of my closest friends and we were getting ready to do some temporary work on the car that I’d wrecked.
The phone rang and I heard the voice of my Pastor on the other end. “You need to come home, your father passed away this morning.”
How could that be? He was only 49. And, at 51 (now 54), don’t think I miss the significance of that.
I’d just seen him a few weeks prior when we traveled through Georgia. He and my Mom made the trip down to see us on tour and we’d spent a couple of days off from the tour in Florida.
After that phone call, I was quickly on a plane back home to Virginia. One of my friends with me gave me some things to read that he thought would be encouraging. At the top of one was this verse.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
~ Psalm 46:1
That’s been something of a life verse since then. And it’s been proven true time and time again. Through that horrible week of saying goodbye to my Dad, way too soon. And through the rough months ahead as I dealt with that loss.
The verse gained new meaning some twelve years later when I was diagnosed with cancer. A different situation, yet the same eternal truth.
I think I was somewhere in my 40s when the realization finally clicked with me that we’re not supposed to expect an easy life here on earth. We’re not supposed to be comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, God will and does supply our needs. But this isn’t home.
And one day, when we are home, August 1st won’t be such a bad day anymore.
Later the same day that I wrote this, I posted this video.
I had no idea this video was out there. My Dad’s sisters (we lost them in 1983 and 2006) used to sing this. What a testimony from Danny Gaither, who went home to talk it over in 2001.