Today is my Dad’s birthday. Lewis Lee would have been 85 today. But he passed away into the Lord’s presence ten years ago. And while some of the memories are beginning to blur, I will never forget him and I long for the day when I will see him again in the Lord’s presence.
Dad was a preacher’s kid. My grandfather was, among other things, a Presbyterian minister. He pastored a small flock of Korean immigrants who settled in Dinuba, CA (a Central California farm community) in the late 1920’s. I understand that his mother, my great-grandmother, became a Christ follower when Christian missionaries came to Korea in the early 1900’s. So I guess you could say that I’m a fourth generation Christian.
However, each of our paths to the Savior was our own. It is true that God doesn’t have any grandchildren, only children. Dad was a classic example of this. He rebelled against the faith at an early age. It seems that while my Grandfather was a wonderful pastor, he wasn’t so wonderful as a dad. The family was constantly neglected by my Grandfather in favor of the church. In fact, my Dad did not become a follower of Jesus until much later in life – after I became a Christ follower!
The interesting thing is that it was my Grandfather (I called him, “Papa”) who planted the first spiritual seeds in me when I was young. He died when I was only eight years old, but he constantly talked about God to me all the time. I also had godly neighbors who kept inviting me to VBS, which planted more seeds in my heart.
Finally, my mom (you know, “Gracie”) corralled all of us (including Dad) and made us go to church in my teen years. The moment of my conversion came my junior year in High School (1973) at a “Contemporary Worship Service” led by a Christian rock-band (inspired by the “Jesus People” movement – a big shout out to the late Pastor Chuck Smith whose vision to reach young people for Christ with Rock music) at our PRESBYTERIAN church! I guess Jesus really wanted me. And it was a profound conversion.
Soon after, my siblings also started following Jesus. I think they figured that if the Lord could transform their “knucklehead” big brother, there must be something to this Jesus. Dad was one of the last in my family to become a Christ follower. My siblings and I made several appeals to him to respond to Jesus, but for some reason he didn’t budge. Finally, a gruff Real Estate agent, who golfed with Dad, shared the Gospel with him and point blank asked him bluntly if he would receive Christ right then and there. And he did!
If my conversion was profound, Dad’s was AMAZING. It was like someone turned on the Light in my dad’s soul (and Someone did!) He was non-stop in his commitment to Christ for the next 25 years: visiting prisoners in jail, washing towels and serving meals at the Homeless Shelter, and telling everyone he met about Jesus Christ. Even though I had a decade or so on him in Christian “tenure,” he skyrocketed right past me through his unswerving commitment to Christ. He actually died doing what he loved best – helping and serving others.
I entitled this blog, “Legacy,” to show God’s faithfulness to generations. As it says in Exodus20:6, the LORD shows His love “to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” I’m not sure how this works out, but I do know that it is not necessarily linear. Sometimes the parents aren’t the ones to pass the faith to the children. Sometimes the grandparents fail their own children, but make up for it with the grandkids. Sometimes the children influence the parents. And sometimes God uses Rock Bands and Real Estate agents to demonstrate His faithfulness and love to knuckleheads!
God’s ways are serendipitous, but they are sure. The role of the Whole Life Worshiper is not to follow a plan or an expectation, but to follow the “God-of-the-winding-road” and respond to opportunities as He presents them. As my Grandma (on my mom’s side; now 95 years old – another story for another day) would say, “It’s all good.”
Yes, God sure is!
(I miss you, Dad. I can’t wait to be reunited with you, Papa, Great-grandma who started this whole legacy, to be with the Lord on the other side of heaven!)