By Graham Glover –
My daughter turned 10 today. Like all parents, I will never forget the day she was born. Our first child, her birth was, at that point, the single best day of my life (I say this with all due apologies to my wife and our glorious wedding day, but I think she agrees with me…).
I was simply overwhelmed when our daughter was born. As is the case with many first-time parents, I was elated, even if a bit frightened about what being a father is all about. Holding her for the first time, I remember saying to myself: “Am I really a father?!” The emotions were incredible. That day was pure joy.
But less than 72 hours earlier my world was turned upside down with the single worst day of my life. Sitting at my desk, I think writing my sermon for the following Sunday, I received a call from my great-aunt telling me that my father was dead. His death was completely unexpected. He had just walked my sister down the aisle a couple of weeks earlier. My body went numb upon hearing the news, before I let out a scream that caused my 8 ½ month pregnant wife to come running to my office. My grandmother took the phone from her sister and together we cried as she grieved the loss of her only living child and I the loss of my dad.
To say that my emotions were all over the place that first week of May 2005 would be the understatement of my life. I cried a lot, never sure if I was happy or sad. The pain of death and the glory of life were on full display for me and my family. One minute I was filled with a joy I had never known – completely delighted, the next I was heartbroken – utterly devastated. It was, without question, the worst and best 72 hours of my life.
10 years later I remember that week like it was yesterday. There isn’t a day gone by that I have not mourned my father, nor given thanks for the life of my daughter, as well as my wife, son, mother, and siblings. I still miss my dad a lot. From time to time there are still tears and some very raw emotions.
But mine is not a unique experience. Most of us have seen death. We have been confronted with its pain up close and personal. This is the tragedy of our fallen, sinful world. Our bodies are not perfect. They will ultimately fail and we will all die. A baptized child of God, he is among the communion of the saints, but my father was no saint. He was a wretched sinner, whose shortcomings I knew all too well. He loved the Lord and sought comfort in His Word and Sacraments, but my dad, like each of us, was never going to live forever.
All of us will die – some sooner than expected. But die we shall. This much is certain. And all of us will experience death, to include those closest to us. We will feel its sting and cry out in pain. There are no simple words, no Hallmark cliché that can take the horror of death away. It is sure to come. And it sucks. It really, really sucks. For 10 years I have suffered its consequences, and I hate it today as much as I ever have.
Death however has no mastery over me. It may poke and prod and rear its ugly head. I will succumb to it one day and those I love dearest will as well. But death will not win. As often as I experience it, as many times as I see and feel it, I will always find comfort in a joy that is far greater than death.
I say these things confidently, without any hesitation, because in this glorious Easter season I know that my Redeemer lives. Christ is Risen! He is risen from the dead. Death has no mastery over Him, nor to any who are part of His kingdom. On this birthday of my daughter and anniversary of my father’s death, I am at peace. I am at peace in my Savior, who has forgiven me, as he has my father and my daughter. He has won eternal life for us, as He has for you. He has defeated death. He has conquered it – once for all – and in so doing, offers the joy of life with Him forever.
My father is dead, but one day he will rise with the Lord. My daughter is 10 and when this same Lord returns, she will be reunited with her grandfather. To God alone be the glory!