When I was first asked to write a tribute for my father I was quite hesitant and reluctant to enter such an emotional space, as the feelings of grief are still very great and I didn’t want the memories to flood in all at once. However, as the publishing aspect of Dad’s life played such a significant role in his work and ministry, it seemed fitting to remember and honour him by using the written word as the vehicle to convey my love and appreciation for him. I love my dad and I miss him! It will always be in the present continuous, as neither will diminish with time or absence; a constant state of being, much like our love and remembrance of the Lord Jesus when we sup together around His table – in the knowing of the person and what that person has done only makes the love for them grow, their absence merely makes the reunion more desirous.
Dad in private was the same man in public and he showed no partiality in either domain. Truth was dad’s defence and he was a stalwart defender of The Truth and he did not deviate from this position at all. One of the few things that dad would leave his work to do was for a game of chess. My brothers and I all learnt to play chess, mainly because it meant we enjoyed some one-on-one time with our dad, but it also gave us insight into how he thought and it pictorially illustrated how he viewed life and his calling – protect the King and His ways at all costs.
I felt incredibly privileged to be nurtured and raised in my father and mother’s home. It was an environment of love, respect, much laughter and incredible generosity and hospitality. I don’t think we would be able to count the number of meals my mother has prepared, or the beds she has made for visitors; our home was always a hive of activity and every person; whether ministry, family, friend or stranger were made to feel welcome and well looked after. It must be stated that my dad wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that he did over his life without the tireless help and support of our mother and in paying tribute to him she must be acknowledged and included as well. They have been a remarkable team, a wonderful example and their counsel and instruction has been a safeguard in many of life’s important choices and decisions. Dad provided well for his own and for others.
If I could use three words to describe my father they would have to be, courageous, fearless and faithful. He was uncompromisingly committed to the truth of God’s Word and from that firm foundation he pastored the flock of God with a loving, transparent and sincere heart. Dad would never ‘work the angles’ for his own gain, or use his abilities, position and title to promote self or power and control over others. He truly knew how to pastor people and he genuinely cared even for those who disagreed, called him all kinds of names and even cut him off. I’ll never fully know or understand all that dad underwent from all the hate filled, vitriolic and false accusatory statements made about him or directed at him because of the stand he took, but I do know that he was prepared to have his reputation smeared for the reputation of his Lord and the Gospel. He often said with tears streaming down his face, “The Lord Jesus made Himself of no reputation when He stood by me!” The knowledge of his Saviour and the calling upon his life then enabled him to proclaim, warn, exhort, teach and admonish the people of God without fear or favour so that his offering of service may equip and present every man perfect in Christ. Dad considered pastoring a privilege not a position of power or an arduous, difficult or grievous ‘job’.
The passing of time is indeed a great revealer and even upon reviewing many of Dad’s writings, messages, study and lecture notes we can honestly declare, “He was right!” Did he want this, look for this or want to have this attributed to him via the voices and accolades of his fellows? If this was your motivation would you truly be prepared to be a lone voice, to be ridiculed, castigated and defamed? I think not! This never entered the equation. Dad loved and feared God, not man; therefore he was a worthy mouthpiece for the Lord. He will be remembered as a man who loved the truth, spoke the truth, lived the truth and died committed to the truth – a prophet not accepted in his hometown, but a man with prophetic insight nonetheless.
As a final brushstroke to the portrait of my dad there is an aspect that warrants a mention and to which I shared much affinity. My father enjoyed poetry and was exceptionally astute in his ability to recite, recall and appreciate the richness found within its meaning; whether hidden or clear. Dad felt very strongly about the use of words, and because words have meaning he was very careful with their usage. Idle words, words wrongly applied or pronounced, or misappropriate words were very quickly corrected and usually advised not to be used again. As an example, Dad very much disliked the way, in the modern vernacular, ‘cool’ is used to describe something of interest or amazement. He would remind his grandchildren, upon its usage, that it should only be used to denote variants within temperatures; therefore a new football could not be ‘cool’ unless it had been stored in a refrigerator!
For those of us who knew him best he means so much more to us than words can express, but his character, calling and life’s work will continue and be remembered through the legacy he has left behind. He was a man, but a man worthy to be called a faithful servant.
“Separated and yet eternally joinedBy a cord that nought can sever.Stronger far than ties on Earth;For we are joined forever.Joined and not in Memory alone,But in a faith Resplendent.For we are joined in Christ the LordAnd in His Life Triumphant.Feeble Flesh has melted,A Form so Loved has gone;But we are still united,For Christ the Lord has Come.”