On April 1st, 2021, my father would have been eighty eight years old. He passed away six years ago. On a social media site, my sister posted a tribute to our father that stated:
Happy heavenly birthday dad! A fool you definitely were not!!! Thank you for watching over us and continuing to guide us through life. Until we meet again
My sister also posted this photograph of my father when he was about 26 years old. Newly graduated from dental school, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was commissioned as a captain. I stared at this young man, less than half my current age. I saw physical traces of myself, my sister, and my own children staring back at me. I wondered, would I have been friends with him if we had met when we were the same age?
It is an intriguing question. I loved my father and have written many blogs about him, our relationship, and the life lessons he imparted to me. However, I was never comfortable around him. We were both too much alike. Perfectionist, opinionated, and stubborn. Anytime I tried to engage in a deep discussion, we inevitably butt heads. Although it was better once I was on my own and moved out, there was always tension whenever we spoke. I often thought he was unfairly harsh and I would carefully choose my words whenever we interacted.
I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.
2 Corinthians 7:8-9 (NLT)
The Apostle Paul did not suffer fools gladly. He endured the loss of his professional title and the prestige of being one of the leaders of the Jewish community, all to unswervingly follow his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His zeal was infectious and millions have come to Jesus Christ because of his powerful letters in the Bible. Yet, these same letters could also hurt and in the passage above, Paul acknowledged this. So, what was his purpose in writing such a harsh letter to those whom he loved?
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT)
Paul was extolling the Truth of God and if it brought about a change in the lives of the recipients of his letters, leading them to repent and change their ways, then He knew it was in God’s will. The end justifies the means. Paul poured out his heart to the Corinthian church, pleading with them to correct their ways, and many favorably responded, although some were hurt by his harshness.
What I interpreted as my father’s harshness, I now understand as his way of expressing his love to me. He didn’t want me to fail. He didn’t want me to repeat the same mistakes that he made in life. My father was nobody’s fool and he wanted to make sure I lived my life in the same manner. Today, I pass along my life lessons to my children and marvel at how much of what he taught me is imbued within the core of my life.
Perhaps we would have been friends if we met at the same age.
“Thank you for watching over us and continuing to guide us through this life.”
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.