Broken Hearted Joy ~

by Audrey on October 7th, 2014










My daddy went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, September 28, 2014.
 
I’m still sad but at the same time, it's a sad filled with joy.  Broken hearted Joy.
 
I’m not sad for him.  I’m sad for me.  I miss him and I know the world will never, ever feel the same for me in this life.  But, it will be good again.  It will just be different.
 
Within the last month before my daddy died, I read these words by Jonathan Edwards:
 
“All gracious affections that are a sweet odor to Christ, and that fill the soul of a Christian with a heavenly sweetness and fragrancy, are broken hearted affections. A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble broken hearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires. Their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble broken hearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit; and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior.”
 
These words are so true.  And they were ringing in my heart those days in the hospital, those days of watching my daddy fade from this life.  God knew I would cling to those words and to the phrase, “a humble broken hearted joy.”  This is the way I feel.  My heart is so broken, yet in ways unspeakable, full of joy ~ only because of Christ.  In this life, God gave me gracious affection and a heart full of love for my daddy.  He and Mama gave my brothers, my sister, and me,  a happy childhood home. 
 
 
Back in 2003, I wrote:
 
I always called him Daddy –  I still do.  When I was a little girl I was afraid of many things . . .  the dark, thunderstorms, snakes and spiders, unfamiliar places. 
 
Back then I loved and still, to this day, love home.  I like stability, familiarity, routine. 
 
I remember my first day of school.  I didn’t want to go - I just wanted to stay home.
 
Home was a happy, safe, familiar place filled with affection.
 
Mama drove me to school that first day and we got to the school early. I was the first student in my class.   My teacher had wavy gray hair, glasses, and a nice smile. 
 
She told me in which desk to sit.  As I did, I looked around the room and noticed brightly colored letters on the walls and a huge chalkboard behind the teacher’s desk.  I watched my teacher as she worked at her desk.
 
She spoke with me a little; I don’t remember what she said but I do remember getting used to my desk and somehow thinking this new place would be OK.  It was becoming familiar.
 
The class began to fill up with other children.  I watched them come in.  Then I saw an adult come to the teacher, then to me, and they told me that I was in the wrong room.
 
I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. I gathered my things and followed the adults out of the room, all the while looking for my mother.
 
I saw her and she saw me.  As I think on it now, she must have seen the tears in my eyes because she quickly made her way over to me and said how sorry she was and told me that I would like my new teacher, I really would.
 
She told me that this teacher had taught her and my dad when they were in school.
 
I still remember standing in the little foyer of the classroom, in front of the cloakroom, just outside the new unfamiliar big room, holding tightly onto my mother’s legs
 
My new teacher took me by the hand and brought me to my desk and said, “I taught your mommy and daddy.” 
 
Somehow that comforted me.
 
It was also during my early years that I had a frightening, recurring dream.  I would wake up in the middle of the night terrified because I dreamed that spiders and snakes were crawling all over me. 
 
Scared and trembling, I always got up and ran to Mama and Daddy’s room.
 
Their room was safe, protected, and secure.   Daddy was there.  When I appeared at the side of their bed, on my mother’s side, she would say, “Get in and don’t wiggle.”
 
I wasn’t going to wiggle. I didn’t want to go back to my bed where the spiders and snakes lived.
 
Having my mother’s arms wrapped around me, and hearing my daddy’s breathing on the other side of the bed, knowing he was right there comforted me.
 
I had other fears.  I was terribly afraid of thunderstorms.  I remember one storm in particular when the thunder popped, the lights flashed, and I ran to Daddy’s room. 
 
I just stood in the doorway.  He was studying at his desk – he didn’t even look up but he obviously heard me because he said, “Come on in, Audrey.”  I did.  And I was secure.  I was with my daddy.  I just sat on his bed while he worked until the storm was over.
 
Something about him being close made everything OK.  He was strong – like a tower – I ran there and I was safe.  The storm could rage but I felt safe because I was with my daddy.
 
One night, however, daddy taught me to trust Someone other than him or my mom or the secure things around me.  I don’t think it was his intention yet it is the lesson I learned and one that I still carry with me to this day.
 
My childhood home was in rural South Carolina - the same 40-acre farm on which my dad grew up.  And one night, he decided he had a job for my sister and me. 
 
It was one of those really dark nights out in the country.   There were no street lights and even the sky was dark; no moonlight or starlight.  And it happened to be a night when Daddy needed something out in the barn that was just beyond the pasture behind our house. 
 
He handed a flashlight to my sister and me and sent us out.
 
I was stunned.  He was telling us to go out into the dark night with just a flashlight.  Didn’t he know I was frightened? 
 
When I was growing up, we didn’t question my dad.  If he told us to do something, we just did it.  I thought Daddy knew everything and I thought he was so great.  If I ever put anyone on a pedestal – it was my daddy.
 
All these years later I still remember walking out of the back porch hearing the screen door slam behind us. The light from the porch wasn’t very bright.  It certainly wasn’t going to guide us all the way to the barn.  And the flashlight was dim.
 
But we began our journey.  
 
After a few sluggish steps, I whispered to my sister, “Are you scared?”
 
“No,” she whispered back as she held on tightly to my hand.
 
I remember seeing the light from the flashlight dancing on the scary ground in front of us.
 
There we were out in the darkness – alone and quiet, hearing all kinds of noises which I would later learn were just the pine trees swaying against each other in the night air.  But to me they sounded like ghosts, bad guys, and boogie men. 
 
I whispered again:
 
“Hope, let’s sing.” 
 
And so we did.
 
The pine trees continued to sway, the light on the ground danced, and the sky was as black as ink but as we trudged on towards the barn we began to sing - softly and meekly,
 
“Have faith in God when your pathway is lonely, He sees and knows all the way you have trod; Never alone are the least of His children, Have faith in God. Have faith in God.”
 
And then we got louder on the chorus.
 
“Have faith in God, He’s on His throne; Have faith in God, He watches o’er His own.  He cannot fail, He must prevail; Have faith in God, Have faith in God”
 
We sang all the verses and before long our focus wasn’t on the dark night or the bad guys or the noises – our focus was on God.  And we made it back home that night with whatever it was my dad sent us to get.
 
I don’t remember that part.  What I do remember, however, is that God seemed to reach down out of heaven to hold my hand and extend His care to me.  He etched in my memory His tender care, through a hymn, on a dark night. 
 
God has used that night many times in my life.  Though I don’t know how much Scripture I knew at that time – God took what I did know and brought it to my mind.  I knew the hymn because we sang it often at the little church Daddy pastored.   It was in that little church that I would take my seat every Sunday on the second row and listen to my daddy open the Word of God. 
I took notes of my dad’s sermons in the Bible my parents gave to me for my birthday in 1964. 
 
Over Psalm 24, I wrote:  “Preached by Daddy on March 9th”
 
On the pages between Revelation and the maps, I wrote:
 
“Notes by Daddy’s sermon.  Daddy preached on covetness on December 24, 1967.   Preached by Daddy on December 24, 1967.  When we get gifts on Christmas they are just temporary.  People ask each other what we want for Christmas but we never ask God what we can give Him.  Sometimes people just give other people gifts because they’re expecting one from her or him.  People try to decide what they want to give a person, but somebody says, ‘why don’t you give them this, but the other person says, they have already got that.’  We don’t give God our lives because we are afraid He will use them.  We think about how much it will cost us.”
 
On another page, I wrote:
 
“Daddy preached in Ephesians and 2nd Thessalonians and Romans on June 29, 1969.  We cannot accept what Jesus did unless we accept Who Jesus is.  If we live we live to the Lord, if we die, we die to the Lord.  No matter if we live or die we do it to the Lord.  We are responsible for our life, for all of our life.  We are supposed to put Jesus first, not second or third, but first.  No matter what we do Jesus owns us, He is the head of our lives.”
 
Every Sunday and every Wednesday night, I listened to Daddy teach the Scriptures and my heart was pierced with God’s truth.  I don’t know if the people in the pews were listening but I was listening.  I still remember the day when I felt the weight of my sin – as a 6 year old girl – heavy on my shoulders.  I heard Daddy preach “Whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.” 
 
I knew I was a sinner.  I had lied, I had deceived my sister, I had laughed at unholy things.  I had disobeyed my parents.  I knew I wasn’t good.
 
I heard him explain that people can never be good enough to get to heaven.  I heard him tell how Jesus died in my place, as my substitute, and made the way for me to have a personal relationship with God.  I heard him tell the old, old story - over and over again. 
 
My daddy did that.  He told me the story of Jesus.  And it was through hearing the Word of God that I came to know the Word, Who became flesh and dwelt among us.
 
I remember the day I walked down the aisle of the church, hugging my daddy and telling him that I had trusted Christ as my Savior and Lord and I wanted every one to know.  This was my public profession of faith.  It was a few weeks later that my daddy baptized me.  I remember that day, too not only because of its significance in my life, but also because there was a spider in the water!  I was scared of spiders but Daddy reached for my hand, told me it would be OK because I was with him.  He was there.
 
So many years have passed since I sat in the pew of that little Baptist church.  And in those years, my daddy served as pastor of other churches in the Carolinas.  In each one, I  learned so many things from the life of this man.
 
Though my daddy wasn’t perfect, I knew he loved God and I saw him live his faith.
In all my growing up years, he continued to watch over me. 
 
Once when I was 16, not long after I got my driver’s license, my sister Hope had come home from college for the weekend.  On Sunday, Daddy asked me to take her to a friend’s house so she could ride back to Chapel Hill with her. 
 
I had instructions from my father to drive straight there and straight home.  I did what I was told - at first.  But after dropping off Hope, I noticed that half the school was playing baseball at a field one block away.  It wouldn’t be out of my way, I thought, to drive by the park and say hi, would it?
 
“Go straight there and come straight home,” my dad had instructed.  At first, I listened as I turned down the road that would take me home.  But then as I was getting ready to pass the next road I thought, “Surely my dad wouldn’t mind if I just drive by the field.  It’s not really out of my way.  I am still going straight home.  And besides if I had chosen to go this way at first, I wouldn’t even be making this turn now.”
 
So I made a choice.  I turned.  Instead of heading straight home, I was heading straight for the park.  I wanted to see who was there, say hi to my friends and then I would go straight home.  My dad wouldn’t even have to know.  Well, as I approached the yield sign, I slowed down and looked both ways.  But the sun was shining in my eyes and I didn’t see anybody, I really didn’t. 
 
I can still remember hitting the steering wheel, seeing the glass shatter, and hearing metal crunch.  I felt the force of my dad’s blue Buick slamming into a car.  I looked up, shaking and in front of me I could see the driver of the other car getting out – his head bleeding.  All the people from the field were quickly gathering around us.
 
I heard police, saw lights.  I was crying in my car until my history teacher came and helped me out.
 
 I remember screaming, “My dad is going to kill me!  My dad is going to kill me!!!”  I screamed it over and over.  My teacher was trying to tell me that my dad would be glad I was OK.  “No he won’t, he’ll kill me,” I continued, sobbing uncontrollably.
 
What a thing to say.   I can’t even remember a time when I was growing up that my dad ever even yelled at me.  He spanked me.  He made me obey. Sometimes he had to cup my face in his hands and be stern with me, stubborn that I was. But he was gentle.  I was never, ever afraid of him.  I never, ever knew him to lash out in anger even when I deserved it.
 
But here I was screaming for the whole town to hear, “My dad is going to kill me!”
 
Well, my daddy didn’t kill me.  He didn’t yell at me.  He didn’t even lecture me.  He just appeared.  Comforted me.  Took care of everything and took me home.
 
Some time later, I was sitting in my room doing homework.  My daddy came home from work, opened the door to my room, and gave some papers to me.  Then he left.
 
I looked at one of the papers which informed me that his insurance had gone up.  Another one was the bill for fixing the car.
 
I felt so ashamed.  He didn’t have to yell.  Or lecture.  I got the point.  And he still let me drive.
 
Two years later when I was a senior, it was my daddy who took me to buy the dress I would wear for homecoming at my high school.  I’ll never forget it.  Homecoming is a blur in my memory but the day spent with my dad is as fresh as if it happened yesterday.  I still have the dress.
 
Some time passed.  One Sunday afternoon in January of 1978, after I had been home from college for the weekend, I was in my room packing my stuff before I drove back to Chapel Hill.  My daddy again walked in my room and gave something to me.  He said he thought I would like it.  This time it was not papers.  It was a box.  I opened the box and there I found a burgundy leather-bound study Bible.
 
I was surprised because it wasn’t Christmas or my birthday.  My dad knew; however, that I needed this Bible at this time in my life.
 
A few months later, I met Carl.  The first time I saw him he was sharing his testimony at a meeting I attended.  Then later he was teaching God’s Word to a group of college students, including me.  I took notes in my Bible. I was amazed at his passion for Christ.
 
It wasn’t too long before I walked down another aisle in another church where my daddy was pastor.  This time instead of walking by myself to meet my dad, I was holding onto his arm before he gave me away in marriage.  As I let go of his arm and took Carl’s, my dad turned around and married Carl and me.  Later, when Carl was ordained, my daddy served on Carl’s ordination board.  Often, when we visited my parents, my daddy would trust Carl with his pulpit.  He mentored my husband.
 
I grew up as a daughter hearing my daddy preach and grew into a wife hearing my husband preach.  It’s been good. 
 
My dad is now 70 years old and hasn’t served as the senior pastor of a church for a few years now. He still mentors young pastors and counsels people when they ask.  I have often missed hearing him preach.
 
But a few weeks ago, the pastor of my daddy’s home church asked him to deliver the morning message.  Mama told me about it, my son Jordan asked me about it, and then GraceAnna and I drove up to hear him.  It was Jordan’s birthday and he and his fiancé drove from Columbia to hear my daddy    
 
I entered the church and took my seat.  I hadn’t told Daddy that I was coming.  When I saw him make his way out of the door next to the stage, it was like traveling back in time.  Everything was so familiar.  My daddy in his suit, holding his Bible, and looking out at the congregation awed me.  There he was – the man I had listened to all my life.
 
When he got up to open God’s Word, I instinctively reached for my pen.  I took notes on Daddy’s sermon.  He preached from Philippians 4.
 
“Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.  I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.  Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
 
It was homecoming at my father’s church.  It was time to encourage God’s people to stand firm in the Lord as true companions, as faithful people.  Sometimes God’s people forget the “cause of the gospel” and get bogged down in petty things.  Paul knew that Euodia and Syntyche had gotten bogged down – they weren’t getting along.  My daddy then urged the people.  He said that church membership should mean something to a believer because -
 
The Church Needs:

1. People who are faithful.Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

2. People who are willing to work anywhere just to serve the Lord.People with a vision to grow, to care about the unsaved and the unchurched. “Jesus said to them, ‘Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.’”
It is a sin to know that the fields are white for harvest and to do nothing about it. 

3. People who are willing to share, to give, to tithe. “And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.  A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.  Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.’”

4. People who are not afraid of giving too much to God.  

I listened intently.  My daddy’s hair was a little more gray, he was not quite as robust as the dark-haired man who awed me when I was a child. But the truths from God’s Word were robust; His Word stills awes me.  And I have come to realize that it wasn’t so much my daddy who awed me so many years ago; it was my daddy’s God. 
 
Then my daddy closed his message by saying something that grabbed me.  He said:
 
 We need to be people who are not just Bible-toters but Bible-readers and Bible-obeyers.
 
I keep thinking about that.   See, in the South, Bible-toting is part of the culture.  Going to church is a natural part of life.  I was reminded that we need to do more than just tote our Bibles around.  I have come to realize that growing up in my daddy’s home stirred a hunger in my heart to know and obey the Word of God.  So much of what God has done in my life over the years is linked to my daddy.
 
Walking on a dark path with just a flashlight and a command, I have learned to have faith in God.  When my pathway is lonely, I have learned to have faith in God.  He sees and knows all the way I have trod.  I am never alone because I am His child. He’s on His throne.  He cannot fail.  He must prevail.
 
Psalm 139:
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day.  Darkness and light are alike to You.

Hebrews 13:
He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.

Sitting and taking notes in a little country church in the ‘60’s I learned that my life belongs to God.  He can use me no matter what it costs me.  I know what He did and I know Who He is. If I live I live to the Lord, if I die, I die to the Lord.  No matter if I live or die I do it to the Lord.  Jesus is first, not second or third, but first.  No matter what I do Jesus owns me, He is the head of my life.
 
Philippians 1:   “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
 
Sitting and taking notes in another country church in the fall of 2003, I was reminded that God wants me to be faithful to the end.  He wants me to be willing to work – anywhere – just to serve Him.  He is the One who gives His vision for unsaved people - the fields really are white for harvest.  It is a sin for me to do nothing about it.  I want to share, to give, to tithe.  I don’t want to be afraid of giving too much to God.  And most of all, I want to be a Bible-reader and Bible-obeyer, not just a Bible-toter.
 
I think often of my days growing up in the country, outside of a little town in South Carolina.  I think about the familiarity of that place and how my life as a little girl centered on home, family, and church.
 
And I think about my life now as a grown woman.  It really hasn’t changed all that much some 40 years later.  It still centers on home, family, and church.  I still take notes on sermons.  I still listen to great men preach.
 
Oh there have been times when it seemed that God has handed me a flashlight on a really dark night and sent me off to do something for Him that I was afraid to do.  And I have been stunned.   Didn’t He know I was frightened?  How could He do this thing?  I’ve been scared of boogie-men and bad guys, first days of something new, thunder claps, spidery dreams, and swaying pine trees. 
 
Yet He persists. He convinces me of His presence.   And I don’t question God as much anymore.  If He tells me to do something, I just do it.  He knows everything and I think He is so great.  He’s the Only One Who belongs on a pedestal. 
 
He has sent me to many places – some places I have wanted to go and some places I have not wanted to go.  I’ve been off to two liberal universities - one as a student, and one where I worked, I've lived halfway across the country and traveled halfway around the world.  I have walked in small, dirty villages where the people have nothing and I have lived in the middle of the greatest affluence of our land.  I have been amazed at both the complexity and simplicity of our world.  I have been both afraid and exhilarated when faced with the unfamiliar and unexpected.
 
But I want to tell you something.  Nothing and I mean nothing, compares to a South Carolina back porch, a South Carolina farm, and a South Carolina man who taught me Who Jesus is and what Jesus did.  Nothing compares to knowing that God sees and knows all the way I have trod.  Nothing.
 
See, it was just outside that little town in South Carolina where the Lord raised up a man to tell a small girl the story of Jesus - Who would never leave her alone. Thank God for such a man.  Perfect man?  No.  Good man?  Yes.  It is my prayer that God raises up a new generation of real men who will be the leaders, providers, and protectors of their children – who will, without apology, tell the story of Jesus. 
 
 
“Tell me the story of Jesus; write on my heart every word.  Tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.  Tell how the angels in chorus sang when they welcomed His birth.  Glory to God in the highest, peace and good tidings to earth.  Fasting alone in the desert, Tell of the days that are past, How for our sins He was tempted, Yet was triumphant at last.  Tell of the years of His labor, tell of the sorrow He bore; He was despised and afflicted, homeless, rejected and poor.  Tell of the cross where they nailed Him, writhing in anguish and pain; tell of the grave where they laid Him, tell how He liveth again.   Love in that story so tender, clearer than ever I see:  Stay, let me weep while you whisper, love paid the ransom for me.  Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word; tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.”
 
Thanks Daddy.
 
 2014
Today, God has taken me to a new place – I will live the rest of my life without my daddy’s physical presence.  But I know it will be OK.  I join many who have walked this rode before me.  My daddy walked this rode when he was a young man.  He lived most of his adult life without his parents. 
 
I miss him. I know I will always miss him.  I will reminisce with Mama, my siblings, my husband, my children, and grandchildren with great fondness.  I still have so much to say - so much to write.  

I will always have a gracious affection and a broken hearted joy when I think of him.  Heavenly sweetness.  A humble broken hearted love.  I am so grateful for the love of God.
 
“All gracious affections that are a sweet odor to Christ, and that fill the soul of a Christian with a heavenly sweetness and fragrancy, are broken hearted affections. A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble broken hearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires. Their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble broken hearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit; and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior.”



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3 Comments

Erin - October 9th, 2014 at 3:24 PM
This is so sweet about your dad. I'm sorry for the loss of your dad.
Christy McKay Lewis - October 9th, 2014 at 10:58 PM
This was beautiful. I wept the whole time while reading it.
Alisa - October 26th, 2014 at 4:59 PM
What a tribute to your daddy of how a father should be! Our Heavenly Father rejoiced to welcome this dear child of His to Heaven. It is not easy to let our daddies go but so good to know it is just a little while and we will see them again since we know Jesus. Thank you for sharing such tender precious memories.

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