My father-in-law Jack passed away a few days ago at 95. Though we had many conversations we really hardly knew each other.
He was born into a poor family in Oklahoma. As an infant they moved to Missouri where his father spent time in jail for running moonshine. A few years later they moved to California.
After graduating from high school he enlisted in the army and spent four years landing on beaches in the Pacific in World War II. Through it all he earned two Bronze Stars and one Silver Star for valor.
When the war ended he returned home and never spoke about it. He said he couldn’t remember what he won the Bronze Stars for and would only in briefest terms tell the circumstances of the Silver Star.
I think there were just too many harsh memories he wanted to forget.
Shortly before deploying his older brother spoke with him about a relationship with Jesus and he prayed. I know it’s been said, “There are no atheists in fox holes.” Yet, for him he meant it and it changed his life.
When he returned he was married and through the next several years had three children he adored. Though by nature not an overly affectionate man, with his daughters and later his grandchildren he was completely different.
And though quiet he could spend hours talking with his grandchildren about what they were doing in a way I never saw him do with anyone else.
Once back home, he along with a brother and brother-in-law started a business that he helped run successfully until well into his eighties.
But his real passion was missions.
Ministry to those who were needy both locally and in developing countries. Perhaps because of his own destitute childhood he had compassion for those who were the least of society. And he not only gave of his money but he faithfully ministered locally and in traveling around the world to visit projects he was supporting.
From a personal note he and I through decades never really shared much personally. Perhaps it’s just who we both were. Perhaps he never quite forgave me for being the first to marry a cherished daughter and take her from his home.
But frankly I look forward to a time in Heaven when we can get to know each other.
And I believe he’s heard the words from his Lord, “Well done my faithful servant.”
Have you had someone like that in your life?
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