“For we all make many mistakes, and if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.” James 3:2 (RSV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
My father was diagnosed with cancer in October of 1998 and went to be with the Lord about 9 months later. My sister, Cathie, and I adored our daddy. Cathie told me that when you lose a loved one, you never really stop grieving for them and missing them. But, after a while, you start to remember happier things. I think she is exactly right.
After my father passed away, I went to New Jersey to visit my wife’s father. (We call him “Opa,” because that’s German for “Grandfather.”) Opa has always loved to “pick my brain” to see what I’m thinking. One morning we got up early, and he bought us coffee and doughnuts and took me down to a pier next to the Atlantic Ocean as the sun was coming up. That morning, as we sat in the sunlight and watched the waves, I told him, “Opa, my father was an extraordinary man.”
He replied that he was not surprised I’d said that. He said that all sons think their fathers are extraordinary men.
I said, “But, Opa, my father’s mother-in-law lived in the house with him for 30 years. And after his funeral, she told me that, during that whole time, my father had never said one unkind word to her.”
Opa looked me straight in the eye and said with all gravity and seriousness, “John, I take it back. Your father was an extraordinary man!”
Later on I was telling my aunt what my grandmother had told me—about how in three decades my father had never said one unkind word to her. My aunt said, “John, your grandmother is telling the truth. I was there and I saw it. Your father never said an unkind word to his mother-in-law. But sometimes when she turned her back he wrinkled his brow and frowned. He never spoke unkindly to her—but sometimes he did make faces!”
It makes me laugh every time I think about that. And it clearly illustrates the effort it takes to be Christian in our conduct and in our speech. Today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) says that if a person is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect person. I don’t think we ever achieve that, because none of us are perfect. But we all need to make the daily effort, because God is pleased with our progress. I could be wrong, but I think God is pleased with our efforts to be good, even when we fall short. So make the effort to live for the Lord this week. And when you are tempted, hold your tongue—even if you have to make a face.
From our house to yours, Happy Father’s Day. Make it a great week.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” (Sing that to the title to the tune of “Secret Agent Man”) He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas and is about to celebrate his 25th year of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (He is pictured at right with one of the babies in his church.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 19) and Seth (age 16) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where all the fathers are getting daily devotional magazines as a present this Sunday.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.