Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dear Dad (My Second Open Letter):

Dear Dad,

This is my second letter. It seems very strange that over a year has transpired now… and you’re still gone. It seems odd that everyday life, something that used to consist of coming home and seeing you sitting on the couch and doing work, is now totally different. There are times when I think about you, how you raised and cared for me, and those times interspersed throughout every single week always leave me confused, even after so long. Death used to be a theological concept to me, something I had nailed down; Christ had conquered it and all was right in the world. That last part still holds true, but I can tell you that I haven’t a clue as to understanding all that death entails. When I think of life come and life gone by, I feel like the writer of Ecclesiastes, where all seems vanity and I am simply dazed.

Much has happened since you left. To tell all of it would be tiring, boring, and—in general—useless, since I sincerely doubt you will ever see this letter, though I could be wrong. Theologically, I know you’re with the Lord; truly, I know you’re with the Lord. But, for my own heart’s sake, it helps me to write to you every year, partly because I want to keep you in this family, and I want to hold myself accountable to take the things that you did well and start doing them myself.

You see, last year, I remember telling you of my desire to put to death the sins that had entangled me. I didn’t. And, they choked even more life out of me as time went on. I have found myself countless times trying to go to sleep, lying in a dark room and wondering who I am and where you are.

Don’t get me wrong, we have moved on to some degree. Life is a new normal. But, those feelings that you sometimes think will go away… they really don’t. I have made mistakes that could or have cost me money, good friends, a good conscience, and even certain jobs. I feel like the prodigal son running home.

All of this should lead me to despair, and it does. But despair leads me to the cross. And, there again, as He always is, I find my Savior, the same One Who brought you home, standing and looking down upon me with eyes full of love and mercy, and I have no idea why. I am tempted to look at what opportunities today my sin may cost me, and why I shouldn’t simply continue on in them and enjoy this present life. When someone says anything good about me (especially those at work who hardly know me), I am reminded of the shame. And, when happiness and joy should be at the forefront of my day, I have found myself more in sadness and despair.

But, then I realize that I am committing the greatest sin the world has ever known: pride. To reject what I have known all my life about the gospel because it seems I have ignored it too long, because I have known it too well, because my sin can no longer be forgiven (not even through a perfect sacrifice), because grace cannot reach to my depths, is to commit the very crime that every single soul in hell has committed. To constantly despair about my sin is to damn myself to hell. To feel sorry for myself all the time is to pronounce anathema upon my head. To shy away from opportunities because I may have to confess “unspoken” sins that I would rather others not know I have had is also pride. Pride, pride, pride. Vanity, vanity, vanity.

So, Dad, although I said it a year ago, I will say it again:  I will not give in to this battle as other so called Christians have. I will not embrace my sin and celebrate it merely so I can feel accepted and loved. To feel accepted and loved while feeling damned at the same time is no salvation. Let others do it!  I won’t.

I have realized that even as I consider law enforcement jobs, something that—should I ever achieve it—I would want you to be here and see, it’s not so much the physical strength I have been lacking; I have been lacking trust in the God Who goes before me. Doing 100 pushups and then going to lie down in a pit of spiritual filth does me no good.

I am looking forward to this year, Dad. I’m looking forward to leaving behind all those things, but preserving your memory in how I behave as a man, loving my family, those around me, and others much more. I’m looking forward to going into whatever career the Lord may choose for me. The ways that you loved and the ways that you led are ways that I want to grasp onto and exemplify.

You are not here. But, the things that you taught me—I pray—will be taken hold of this year by me, by the grace of God. Driven by a deep seated joy in Christ and the peace I find in His truth, I know that what you taught me can be used in even greater ways than either of us could have imagined.

Happy 58th Birthday (December 31st), Dad.  I love you.  I miss you.  But, I am happy in Christ this year, in what I know He can accomplish, and I will see you again. And, one day, with all the rest of those who have died in Christ, we will tell the story of grace to each other, over, and over, and over, and it will never get old; and neither will we.

Still Looking to That Day... Your Son,
Adam Michael Cummings