At our prayer meeting last week, one young man prayed for his father. It had nothing really to do with the subject matter of our half night of prayer. His Dad is a Christian. He wasn’t praying for his conversion. But we let it go! The prayer may not have been immediately relevant. But it was brilliant. Quite unnecessarily he later sent me an e-mail apologising for hi-jacking the prayer meeting. He really didn’t need to. It was one of the highlights.
He’d prayed for his Father who was retiring the following day. Instead of the usual retirement shindig, his Father had sent round an e-mail inviting his work colleagues to a lunch at which he’d give a gospel talk. Three people had responded. Perhaps he was disappointed. But he was going to go ahead with it anyway. His son was justifiably proud of his old man. Who wouldn’t be?
I got quite emotional when I heard that prayer. It’s fair to say that I had a moment! No one spotted it. But there’s something really rather brilliant about that Father’s brave decision to do something bold for Christ. I’ve never met this man, though I’ve heard a little about him. I don’t know how he’s lived his life, though his son is hugely appreciative for his Father’s consistent witness and godly resolve. But I suspect that, like us all, he regrets not doing more for Christ and the gospel. But he realised, on his retirement day, that he had nothing to lose. The impending end of his working life focussed his mind and his heart. As it turned out, nine people turned up, he gave a talk, took some questions and handed out some books. It may have been one of the best things he’d done in his working life. It was probably the bravest.
I often think about what sort of example I give my children. I’d love to be a living legacy of godliness. I want the way that I live and the things that I do to show that there’s no substitute for serving Christ. I sometimes wonder what they’ll say about me when I’m gone. I desperately want to show them that there’s nothing as valuable or worthwhile as living wholeheartedly for Christ. It’s just I can’t seem to do it with the unerring consistency that I long for! Clearly there’s work to be done. But for those of us who are fathers, it’s a reminder that we can inspire our sons and daughters to be more sanctified versions of themselves through the model we give.
The young man in our congregation got to see his Father going out on a limb and doing something bold for the gospel. And it made him really rather proud.