In 1997, at the 24th Annual Daytime Emmys, Mr. Fred Rogers received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The humble man approached the stage as a classy rendition of his classic TV theme played. When the applause faded out and they gave him a mic, Mr. Rogers gave these words as part of his acceptance speech:
“So many people have helped me to come here to this night. Some of you are here, some are far away and some are even in Heaven. All of us have special ones who loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds, I’ll watch the time.”
There was laughter at first, followed by silent tears as each of those TV producers and celebrities meditated on their parents, teachers, mentors, and anybody else who they owe their lives too. As I listened to his speech twenty-one years later, I cried as well. The line which struck me the hardest was “Some are even in Heaven.” While there are many other special ones who loved me into being, I can’t help but focus on my Dad. At the time I was listening to the speech, I was editing a video for my church about Father’s Day. The timing of everything sent me to the floor weeping and I cried out to my heavenly Father.
It’s funny. We all know death is a natural part of life, but there is something deep inside our souls which tells us “This is not how things are supposed to be.” Why else would spend so much money and effort trying to live as long as possible, if death was how things were always intended to end?
The Grand Story which God is telling is one where he is rescuing us from our sins, ourselves, and this fallen world which we’re imprisoned. Don’t get me wrong, I love life joyfully, but I am fully aware of the fact this world isn’t our home. “Creation has been groaning” as Paul says, crying out for things to be made right.
Everyday I realize more and more how much my Dad has influenced me. From my heart for ministry to my sense of humor along with my high pitched laugh when I get rolling, his thumbprint on my existence is undeniable. There’s so much he’s missing out on like my growing storytelling career. If I ever get married and have kids, he’ll miss out on all that too. It breaks my heart daily that he was taken 30 years before he should have been and that I’ll have to live the rest of my life without him.
Death will be completely defeated one day. The world will be remade and everything will be set right. That’s my blessed hope. Until then, I have my Heavenly father, spiritual fathers, and the words of Mr. Rogers to comfort me:
“Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they have made.”
In whatever way you are able, show love to your father or father figures, “the special ones” who poured their love into you and made you into the person you are today. Thank them for their provision, their protection, the lessons, the memories, and for being the men God called them to be. If you are blessed like me to have had a “good dad”, that is the exception not the norm. There’s been a lost of fatherhood lately, but we need Dads now more than ever. Even if you’re not a parent, you can still be a “Dad”, guiding the next generation in how they should go. And if your Dad is still here with us, say I love you and hug goodbye always and often. You’ll never know when will be the last time.