My late father-in-law David was solid like a rock. I have been married to his daughter for 41 years. David joked that he has never quite forgiven me for taking his daughter away, as she was the lead soprano in his choir. To make up for this ‘theft’, I have paid him back by ‘giving’ him three grandchildren. The nicest thing about grandchildren, of course, is that you can fuss over them, and then send them back home!
Over the years, my father-in-law showed great wisdom in dealing with impossible situations. When others give up, he kept on moving faithfully forward. I experienced my father-in-law as someone who never stopped expecting the best from you. Many times over the years, my father-in-law opened doors for me to speak in situations that would otherwise have been closed. He has been a true Barnabas, a Son of Encouragement.
When I have faced enormous obstacles relationally, financially or spiritually, David was always someone that I could sit down with and pour out my heart. I have been blessed with ‘stereo’ wisdom from my father-in-law and my own father, both of whom lived just ten minutes from each other. We live in a culture that is often embarrassed by aging and gray hair, but the Good Book says that ‘Gray hair is a crown of splendor’ and a potential sign of wisdom that comes through often painful years of experience. My father-in-law’s wisdom taught me to be less afraid of aging and gray hair!
‘With humility comes wisdom’, writes King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs. My father-in-law was a very humble man, so much so that he wouldn’t recognize his own humility. The Good Book says ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.’ There was gentleness to my father-in-law that has drawn many hurting, broken people over the years. People instinctively knew that David cares. My father-in-law was both a true shepherd and a true gentleman.
I remember when I announced to my father-in-law that I was going to marry his daughter. Because I said it with a smile, he thought that I was joking! But after I got down on my knees, he got the point. I am one of a rare breed of bridegrooms whose father-in-law actually performed the marriage ceremony. My father-in-law was one of three brothers who became ordained as clergy. So you can imagine all the speeches that we had at our wedding reception. My wedding reception, by the way, was so long that we actually had to have an intermission!
One of the most refreshing things about my late father-in-law is that he didn’t take himself too seriously. Being a wonderful storyteller, he always had a great joke that broke the ice, and opened people up to deeper spiritual truth. With a twinkle in his eye, David would tell a hilarious story of some mishap that happened as children back on the family farm in Saskatchewan.
It was there in Saskatchewan that he met my future mother-in-law. If there was ever a marriage made in heaven, their marriage was one of them. Filled with much love and perseverance, their marriage inspired many other struggling couples to go the second mile and keep on forgiving. Everything about David and Vera breathed the message of hope and steadfast endurance in the face of great obstacles. Their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ was the open secret of their great love for each other, and for a hurting world. Though it has been 19 years now since Vera passed on, she is still fondly remembered.*
My father-in-law was deeply impacted by the Christian Ashram Retreat movement. I admire people who want to keep growing and learning even into their retirement years. David always looked for ways to be more loving, more caring, more forgiving, more Christ-like. The Christian Ashram movement is a big part of what made my father-in-law tick, of what kept him vital and joyful year after year. If David had one wish for those of you reading this article, I am sure that it would be the desire that you might experience a transformed life through attending a Christian Ashram retreat. My own life has been radically transformed through many years of spending each summer at a Christ-centered Ashram retreat with my father-in-law and family. You are invited to join us this summer for an unforgettable three-day BC Christian Ashram retreat this July. Click on the BC Christian Ashram website, or give us a call at 604-533-5509 or firstname.lastname@example.org . You will never regret making that phone call.
* David was blessed to be given a dear second wife Una by the Lord who has joined faithfully into the Christian Ashram family.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-previously published in the North Shore News
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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