I have always heard that God’s timing is the perfect timing; and I must say that I agree. Regardless of what we need or want in life, God has already set a plan in motion for what is ” best” and the outcome has already been declared. We must simply wait for that perfect time……Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Before we were even born, God had a plan for each of us…..He knew the whens, wheres and hows of our lives before we were born.
I was very blessed by God to have been born into a loving, Christian home with parents that deeply loved their children. I was even more blessed, to have a man of God, a simple preacher-man who I called “dad”. I was his ever-present shadow,constantly reaching for his hand as a toddler, as I weeble-wobbled across the floor. My mother would always say,” out of 6 children, you were the most difficult. Your father was your only pacifier.” As a teenager, set in my ways and as stubborn as a mule, my mother would declare ” You are your father’s child!” It was no secret that I idolized him. Everywhere dad, went, I was right behind him. For years, I thought my name was “Shadow” because people would say…”I see you have your shadow with you!”
Every Sunday morning, I would stand by my dad at the back door, as he greeted every church-goer after the service. I learned to shake hands, nod and smile and say” It was so nice to see you today in the Lord’s House, thank you for coming”, before I knew the alphabet or could count past five. Over the years, I learned how to show genuine concern, compassion and empathy to those in need, simply by emulating dad. He taught me the definition of love in action, by doing more and saying less. He showed me by example of how to be transparent, accept criticism and to defend the belief system I had come to treasure.
The deep south in the 60’s was a difficult time with the racial issues taking the forefront of everyone’s lives. My father stood in the pulpit and preached about a God who did not see color or race. I can still hear his voice booming…” God does not care what color you are, He does not care which side of the tracks you were born on, nor is God concerned with the size of your home or bank account. God is concerned with the condition of your heart. Is it one full of love and compassion for your brothers and sisters around you, or is it riled with hatred and vanity? As for me and my house we will serve the Lord, and conduct ourselves by loving ALL of mankind…” Today, as a seasoned adult, I think that was a bold and brave move and statement for him…..a statement that could have the crosses burning in front of our own home……. That’s the kind of man dad was, uncompromising in what he believed.
Pretty much everything in life that I learned, from riding a bicycle, to bungee jumping, my dad was the one who showed me how…(well the bungee jumping, he prayed heavily to God for me to “come to my senses”, but to protect me in spite of my youth). He drove me out of state to college and held my hand as he said “goodbye”. He wrote weekly letters, filled with love and concern for me. Every Wednesday, I would receive a church bulletin from the past Sunday, neatly folded with a note from him that read ; ” Here is Sundays’ bulletin. I love you, Love, Dad.” He stood most proud the day I graduated college……I was just as proud as I introduced him around to my friends…”this is MY dad…”
He walked me down the aisle at my wedding, then took to the pulpit to perform the ceremony.
He was only a phone call away, regardless of the situation, which as I learned, life has a lot of situations. He would drive hundreds of miles to “make sure I was alright”, carefully not involving himself in my marital problems. He never judged. He simply listened and gave his advice when I asked for it. He mailed cards of encouragement, which simply read, “I love You. Love, Dad.”
Years came and went. Holidays flew by. Life happened. The darkest day of my life came on August 28,2000. My dad passed away from a short battle with prostate cancer. Suddenly, he was gone. I was lost. Distraught. Devastated. Almost destroyed. The bond my dad and I shared was deep and now it was broken………..
So many people showed up for his funeral. After the service, I stood at the door of the church with my siblings and mother, greeting and thanking those who had came. I shook hands, nodded and smiled the best I could. So many people saying so many nice things about my dad……just when I thought I would have a nervous breakdown on the spot, one of dad’s deacons from his last church, put his hand on my shoulder. ” Young lady, I knew your father for over 30 years, You are just like him. You talk like him, act like him, have that smile that he had, and you even walk like him. He lives on right there in you. I know you will always make him proud. He sure loved you.” Those words changed my life..I was like him …I was “my father’s child.”
As I sit here today, I think it was no coincidence that my dad was born on Christmas Eve. The life that he lived, the example he was, and his love for everyone was a gift from God, to me. It’s the Christmas present that God gave to me, long before I was born…and it’s a gift that lives within my heart forever.
Happy Birthday daddy…Love, Shadow