In the country where I live, November 1 is a big day at the cemeteries. People arrived all day with flowers, tables and chairs and food. Some even stayed overnight next to the graves of their loved ones. It’s All Saints’ Day, and the next day (so no one will be left out) is All Souls Day.
But to me, November 1 is the day for remembering one of those saints in particular: my dad. That is the day on which he entered his heavenly home thirteen years ago. He was a saint, not because he was perfect, but because that’s what God calls those who become His children through by receiving the forgiveness and new life He offers through Jesus. (See John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 1:2.)
I honor my dad for many things that he taught me, whether intentionally or just by example. Here are some of them:
–To love his spouse and honor her. (I never heard them argue but I often caught them smooching .)
–To love the Bible. I would often find him reading it in the morning in his favorite chair. And he knew how to simply share the message with others, both in church and around the supper table.
–To have fun and enjoy life . We went camping and enjoyed spontaneous picnics and drives in the country. We had Family Nights with games, silliness, and snacks. I remember so well his contagious smile. We even had our “secret” family recipe for candy that he would supervise on special occasions—Yum!
–To put God first in financial affairs. I remember the chart on which he kept track of the family’s giving to several missionaries and other ministries, even on a meager salary. He and Mom taught me from an early age to give generously to the Lord and also to save for the future.
–To do what is right no matter what. There were times when this was painful and unpopular, but he wouldn’t back down. And he was respected for it. By his example, I learned courage and sisu*.
–To love reading. To always be truthful. To honor family and friendships.
–To do one’s best. He made some beautiful things out of wood. He expressed confidence in me and pride in my efforts and accomplishments. I especially appreciated his help with studying the night before a test.
–To accept one’s limitations and make the most of them. He joined in the joking about his lack of musical ability and his short stature. But to me, he was a great man. I look up to him and am pleased when someone remarks how like him I am.
* Sisu (pronounced – see’-soo) is a unique Finnish concept. It is a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. (finlandia.edu/sisu-our-finnish-identity.html)