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On the Journey...
Monthly Insight From Pastor Phil Yoder
A Tribute To Dad
This is going to sound like a tribute to my dad, and that is okay, because that is exactly what it is. And Father’s Day seems like a good time to give it. They say, you never know what you have until it is gone. That may not be completely true, but there is an element of truth in it.
When I was in my late teens, and left home, and went away to college, and now lived around other men, I began to notice something about my dad that I had never noticed before. I began to recognize that dad had a very peaceful disposition about him that I didn’t find in other men. I never noticed this in dad when I lived with him. It was always there; I just never saw it.
Nothing ever seemed to upset dad. I never saw dad strike out in anger, in fact, I never saw him angry. I never heard a curse word come from his lips, I never heard him belittle or put down another person, even if they did him wrong. I never saw dad seek revenge, I never saw dad attempt to injure another person, either physically or verbally. Dad had a deep peace in his soul that nothing could shake, and I didn’t find that in other men.
When I saw this, I recognized it as a very great and rare treasure, and I wanted it for myself too. But now that I noticed it, how do I acquire it? That was the question and the issue that would guide many decisions of mine in the years to come.
I was in college at the time, and I decided that I would go home and work with dad every summer until I learned this rare character trait from him. I began to carefully observe dad’s life, his habits, his disciplines, his devotional life, his relationships, the things and people who were important to him, the things dad chose to do, the things dad never did. I saw that dad had this peaceful disposition, but that was only part of the picture. Dad was a man of peace. He planted peace wherever he went, and he left a trail of peace behind him.
Every summer during my college years, I had the opportunity to go out west and work the wheat harvest. The wheat harvest begins in the southern part of the country, and the work includes driving a combine or a truck hauling grain to a grain bin, working 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week, and working toward the northern tier of the country. To me, this seemed like a great adventure and a good way to see a part of the country that I had not been to before, and a great way to spend a summer. I dreamed about doing this, all winter long, when the snow came, when a lecture got boring, or when term papers got burdensome, I would dream about driving a combine the next summer from Texas to Montana. And come every spring, I would weigh between these two options, going out west and work the wheat harvest, or going home and work with dad and try to acquire the same peace that dad had in his soul. And every summer, I chose to go home and work with dad. That is how much I longed for the peace that I saw in dad’s soul.
Quite frankly, I don’t know how well I have acquired this treasure, or if I have acquired it at all. I don’t always see what is deeply embedded in my soul. I don’t think anybody does.
I still dream of working the wheat harvest some year. Probably always will. Probably never will get it done. My bucket list has developed some serious holes in it by now, and things are falling out. But I do know this, people who have peace in their soul and who bring real peace into this wretched world of misery and strife, are very rare. And I am confident of this, choosing to go home and work with dad those three summers was one of the wisest decisions I ever made.
“Dad, I am sure I never told you this, but I hated painting houses. I know you loved it, but to me, it was so boring. But I love you, and I treasure peace and wanted to learn it from you. Thank you for showing me the way of peace!”
Written by: Philip Yoder