Dear Mom, pls read to Dad.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
I praise you for remembering me in everything and for 
holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.
1Cor 11:1-2

To my dear old Dad, whose birthday is today. 

Every time I saw your birthday in my planner, I wondered what on earth I could for you from far away. God put on my heart a part of Proverbs 31. I thought that was really weird at first, until I realized that if a holy mother should be blessed, a father could be too. So this is me, in my own very Lizzie way, attempting to rise up, take the initiative and call you blessed.
In San Diego, you were my first love. I mean that in the sense, that you were such a kind and loving Father that you made it easy to accept an even kinder and more loving Father. Your love for me is a very important detail in my salvation story –it pointed me to the truth. And your acceptance of my love gave me the confidence to not hesitate when God made my need for Him clear. My testimony is very much the faith of child, because you and mom protected my childhood so beautifully.

I often start my story, with how my parents loved me so much they made sure I knew at a very young age just what a terrible sinner I was. You loved me, but you never let me believe that I was good. How can I ever thank you enough for that? I have watched friends wrestle with the weight of their sin- seeming shocked that they even are sinners. Thanks to you, I never doubted I was a sinner. You and mom taught me what “just as I am” means without encouraging me to stay the same.

In Suriname, you taught me that part of obeying God is going. Not the going to Suriname, but the going to Renz Project. Outside of the norm. Outside of comfort. Outside of what seemed safe. The act of going to the sinner, not making them come to you. I remember how people would stand just outside of the light to listen to God’s Word but remain unwilling too take a step onto the lit up carport. I remember hearing the taunts of the boys outside playing basketball, making fun of the teens coming to church. I remember Ferdie. God taught me so much sitting in the light of that dark neighborhood and later in the nursery room with painted murals. God was molding me during that time, thank you for obeying Him.

In Hot Springs, I remember your focus on loving God. Your very passion for loving God challenged me, because you made me realize that being thankful for salvation is not the same as a relationship with the rescuer. I easily could have become hung up in the legality of trying to pay back to God what I owed Him. You taught me that we do not serve God because we owe Him, but rather we obey Him whole heartedly because that is the way we show our love for Him.

And the importance you have always placed on visiting the sick, the shut-ins, and the newcomers is a demonstration that if we say we love God, than we show love to His beloved creation. Not begrudgingly, or because we have to, but for the simple reason that God is just that good and His love is that motivating. I have seen your love for people rejected, I have seen you hurt by fellow Christians, and I know how frustrating ministry can be. And that is why, I have to thank you again. You taught me that ministry is not about self-glory, love of people, or numbers. It is an act of humiliating obedience that places you in a position of responsibility for souls, that you must love with the same attitude as Christ. Willing to lay down the moment, die to self-desire, love the sinner, and glorify the Father.

In Suriname, when I was in college, you brought Bayo into the family like a stray pup. I did not get to choose him as a member of the family because by the time I came home to visit he was pretty firmly established as “in”. Oh Daddy, again how can I thank you? You taught me how to love the one that God chooses for you to love. God gave us Bayo, I believe that with my whole heart. Thank you for being obedient and for demonstrating to me what discipleship really looks like. It is not something you do, it is a love that is lived out; a friendship like that of Christ Jesus’ with his own disciples. It was the act of bringing Bayo into the family and showing him what real love is…and how it felt to be given love with no strings attached.

And lastly, (at least for now) and perhaps what I am most thankful for is that you are my Paul but not my Holy Spirit. So many parents’ dictate Christianity to their children, focusing on good works, and thinly veiled legalism. They demand their children’s obedience and forget to teach understanding. They equate their own pleasure with that of God’s and end up with children that are unsure of who they are suppose to be pleasing as adults. You never did that to me. You always encouraged me to seek God for myself. To do right and please God.

As much as I hope I have pleased you with my life so far, I am well aware that what is most important to you and momma is that I love God. That my relationship with Him be my first priority.  Thank you for that too, you two gave me the freedom to obey God; and you always encouraged me to listen to God for myself.
I think, what I am most proud of about you dear old Daddy, is that sure I am rising up and I am calling you blessed, but by praising you, my Father in heaven is being glorified. Because you are the kind of dad you are because of Him. You were the kind of missionary you were because of Him. And the pastor you are now is because of Him.
You are; because of Him.

Happy Birthday Daddy. Glad your mine.

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