My father, Mack Clark, left this world for his heavenly home last Friday afternoon with the family by his side. I want to thank ALL of you for your patience throughout this last year of his sickness. I had the special opportunity of preaching his funeral last Tuesday, and it was quite a celebration! Penny, Katy, and I sang "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," and The Quebe Sisters (look 'em up) sang and played triple fiddles on "Whispering Hope."
Thanks to your support and patience, I was able to spend much more time than normal with my dad who lived in Texas. Last Father's Day, I knew that his time was drawing near. I wasn't able to drive home to see him, but I wrote a letter to him and I'd like to share it with you.
Folks, the biggest gift we can give our kiddos is to raise them in the admonition of the Lord. My father did that, and he did it abundantly. I will miss him! But, we'll be together soon
I’m not able to come home on Father’s Day, and I’m sorry about that. I know you don’t care, in that you know that I love you regardless, but I still wish that I could spend some time with you talking and telling stories. I was going to buy you some kind of gift, but I couldn’t think of anything that you really need–-except an iPhone--and I’m working on that.
This is just my 2nd Father’s Day as a daddy, and it doesn’t yet seem quite “real.” But still, even though Charlie Belle doesn’t fully have a grasp on me being her “daddy,” the question comes to my mind: What kind of dad am I? The only way I can really answer that question is if I have perspective. In other words, I have to have something to compare it to. As I think about that, I begin to realize that the only daddy I know set (and is setting) quite an example, and truthfully it’s a bit intimidating to begin measuring myself up to what I know the role of a father to be.
I realize that there are lots of kiddos out there that never had the daddy I have--actually, I’d say only a minority could relate. The role of an earthly father is to give a shadow of our heavenly Father. So, I wanted to share a few things with you that I’m most thankful for in you and your fatherhood–things that pointed me to Christ, serving as direction toward the incredible love our heavenly Father has for us.Love- 1 John 4:19- We love because he first loved us.
Love is a big word, and can mean so many things to many different people. Actually, I think most times when people say the word love, they mean something radically different that fatherly love. True, agape love is a special kind of love that is quite rare. It is love only possible if itself flows from true, agape love from the Father. It works itself out in a myriad of ways, often in ways the world would even claim as unloving. But in all the following things I mention, they ultimately find their source in real love–a love I’m so thankful for.Discipline- Hebrews 12:7- It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
No child naturally wants discipline. There were times that I thought you were too hard on me–every kid does. Now looking back, I’m most thankful for the times when you told me, “No.” There’s an illustration I often use when talking to people or in my teaching, and it’s a perspective only learned on a farm. I remember when you’d scold me for letting a horse run down the dam toward the barn at the end of a ride. At the time, I didn’t know why...besides, running was fun! Now, I realize that though it may have been fun for me–and fun for the horse–it was actually abusive to the horse. If I let that horse run to the barn and create a habit in doing so, the horse would come to expect that behavior and liberty every time it was pointed toward the barn. But when the horse was suddenly commanded to turn at the gate before the barn to continue the ride, the horse would not understand the different command, and a much greater discipline and pain would be needed to correct the behavior.
As I think about the way you taught me to train horses, I realize it was an overflow in how you trained and disciplined me. If boundaries were not set and a continual level of discipline applied, I would have gone out into the world to only be flattened by it. I would not have been prepared. I would have been broken. And though it would have been easier for you (and me!) at times to not discipline and let me run free to whatever barn I chose, it quite frankly would have been abusive, because it would have set me up for a future fall producing much more damage than any discipline received.Protection- Luke 12:6-7- Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
In all of my childhood, I never felt in danger. Let that sink in. I never felt in danger. If anything or anyone threatened me, my immediate comfort was found in Daddy. What could touch me? Nothing! I know my overall childhood was rare, but the protection experienced in having you as a daddy has to be even more so. Physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually–I feared nothing in any of those realms. It still amazes me, for how many people can truly say that? What’s even more amazing is that those dangers did exist. But, I never knew them. Even if I did, they were powerless against me because of the safety I had in you.
Provision- 1 Timothy 5:8- But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
We have never gone without. I’m undoubtedly your son, and I see myself becoming more like you all the time. But if there was only one thing I could choose to inherit more from you, it would be your work ethic. Our culture is becoming lazier by the day. Many well-meaning fathers, who even work hard, work for the wrong reasons. Their families are often put in the backseat while their own desires are satiated. Looking back, I realize that I didn’t notice the sacrifices you made because you didn’t portray them as sacrifices–it was just what you did. I can honestly say that my daddy is the hardest working man I’ve ever known. My house was a house that was provided for, and abundantly so.Wisdom- James 1:5- If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without approach, and it will be given to him.
This is one of those things that, like love, continues long after I’ve left the house. The world says wisdom comes from experience or books, and no doubt that plays a role, but there is no wisdom like godly wisdom. I want you to know that even now as I face situations, I often ask myself, “What would daddy do?” If I don’t know, I just ask you! You may perhaps wonder when you’ve communicated all this wisdom to me, so let me explain. Wisdom is not always communicated verbally, but rather observed in actions–a wise man builds his house on the rock. Wisdom is not always commanded, but relayed in humility–for humility comes before honor. A wise man knows when to say, “I don’t know”, and never assumes that which is prospective–without counsel plans fail, but with many advisors they succeed. You’ve said many wise things to me, but much was gained from things you didn’t say. I watched you build your house on a rock, but just as importantly saw that you didn’t build your house on the sand.
I’ve had the privilege of having you as my daddy for almost 34 years now. I don’t know how much longer either of us will be here, but that doesn’t matter. The Lord will call both you and me home when he decrees; to the purpose of his sovereign will. As I said at the top of this letter, the primary role of earthly fathers is to point their children to the heavenly Father; in countless ways, that you have done. As a result, my ultimate goal as a father is not to merely mimic what you’ve done as a father. My ultimate goal is to mimic how
you’ve been a father. For that is to be like Christ, and in doing so I pray my example and influence will be used by God to foster within my children a desire to be disciples of Christ as well. There is no greater gift given, and no greater love shown.
I love you, Daddy. Your son,