A Father’s Legacy

KATIE POLSKI|GUEST

My father passed away fourteen years ago. I loved him so and still miss him greatly, so Father’s Day still brings to the surface tender emotions, as it does with many. I love to tell my kids funny stories about their grandfather, but this year, I’ve reflected more on some of the gifts Dad has given me through the years.

About five years ago, I was given the responsibility of cleaning out my childhood home. My dad was with Jesus and my mom was near the end of her earthly life, so while the task was daunting, I had grand plans to stay organized, place each item into a bin, and pass it all down to others in the family. It’s strange how things tend to become significant with loss– I cried over my parent’s silverware. Tears over forks. 

At the beginning of the process, I blew off the dust and tried to read each page of dad’s journals from his mission trips around the world. I turned on music, opened bins, and smiled sentimentally while I carefully wrapped each item in the house.

By the end of the process, I was wearily throwing items in a box labeled “whoever wants this.”  Some of the forks ended up there. I stopped smiling with sweet sentimental thoughts. I turned off memory-inducing music and started talking to myself about all the JUNK in the house; I even talked out- loud to my dad asking him why he couldn’t write legibly in his journals—Because I can’t read them, Dad! 

In the end, I kept several items, including a few of the boxes labeled “junk,” and a few of my dad’s illegible journals. I also kept a couple of his odd-looking, home-made seashell creatures—just in case I ever to start to think I come from perfectly “normal” genes.

As I sit here staring at the strange seashell creature sitting on my desk, my heart is filled with gratitude for what my dad passed down to us. But it really has nothing to do with the journals, the silverware, or even the shells. Dad gave me gifts far greater than any of these treasures.

A Love Song for the Savior 

Dad’s love for Jesus wasn’t always neat and tidy.  It wasn’t a love that soothed every pain, it didn’t automatically fix every problem; in fact, his love for Jesus included some wrestling with him. I remember my dad sharing some of his doubts and struggles, especially as a young college student. And during his cancer battle, that love for Jesus didn’t remove the hurt as he struggled to put on a large brace to alleviate pain from the tumors which plagued his spine.

But he loved Jesus fiercely, and he always came back to Him.

He loved Jesus with his heart, soul, and mind and wanted the joy he found in that relationship to be declared to as many people as possible. Sometimes the joy was sung in quiet minor tunes, and other times it was moved into a major key and sung boldly and triumphantly. But it was fiercely and relentlessly sung. And I heard it.

Lord, help me to sing of my love for you all my days. 

A Thirst for the Word

I inherited my dad’s Bible filled with notes, highlights, and even torn pages from so much handling.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds his people that the Words of God are not empty, but are “your very life.” I watched Dad handle his Bible as though the words were his life. It wasn’t merely grabbed off the shelf on a Sunday morning, but he studied its truths with both believers and unbelievers.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters,” Isaiah declares about the life-giving Word.  There was no question growing up how important this book was to my dad.  He drank deeply from it and used it to fuel his day-to-day. His handling of it wasn’t a formula to keep struggles away, it wasn’t a requirement for His salvation, but it was response to His love for Jesus. His fierce love kept bringing Him back to drink more.

Lord, help me to come thirsty and drink abundantly from the waters of your Word all my days. 

An Eagerness for Worship

My Dad loved worship. As a pastor, he loved planning worship services, thinking through ways to be creative and incorporate different senses in worship.

Worship was not work but it was a joy for my dad, and his eagerness for it was contagious.  The worship of his Savior genuinely affected him, and I couldn’t help but be excited with him.

Lord, help me to worship you well and with a joyful heart all my days.

As valuable as these gifts are, I’m mindful that if they don’t dwell deeply within my own heart, I can’t pass them down. Whether you’re the first generation to have this opportunity, or the hundredth, His grace is sufficient. Grace that gives the desire to know our Savior deeply and broadly, grace that gives the voice to sing of that love, and grace to share it with others.

I noticed that my eight-year old was sleeping with an old stuffed animal from my childhood.  I imagined her cuddling it every night, thinking sweet thoughts about her mom. So I asked if she wanted to keep my penguin forever. “Mom, it’s flat, it’s pretty ugly, and it’s really kind of creepy.   If you want it back, you can have it.” 

Yep.  She’ll be throwing away my forks one day.  My flat stuffed animal won’t last another generation, but by God’s rich grace and mercy, my father showed me what will.

head-shotKatie is wife to Chris, a PCA pastor at Trinity church in Kirkwood, MO, and together they have three children, Ella, J-Rod, and Lily.  A former writing teacher, Katie now spends her time writing, teaching piano, and leading women’s Bible studies.  She serves on the board of Covenant College, where she graduated with a BA in English Education, and enjoys serving in her church’s music and women’s ministry.  For more information, as well as additional blog entries, you can visit her website at www.katiepolski.com

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