By LIBBO CROSSWHITE
Hope for the grieving on Father’s Day
The older I get, the more I value learning about the character of Christ. The snippets of Him throughout the Old Testament prophecies, and New Testament eye-witness accounts, give us a real sense of both God’s power and His human form. Perhaps my favorite in the last few years has been His ability to connect with others via the stories He told, all of which pointed to our greatest need: Him.
Paul David Tripp writes that, “In love, God lets pieces of creation die in our hands so that increasingly we are freed from asking earth to give us what only He can give. He works through loss to protect us from giving our allegiance to things that will never, ever deliver what our hearts seek. We learn to give our hearts to full devotion and worship of Him.”
Part of what we’re called to do here on Earth is tell our stories, the good and the bad, that hopefully point to our need and reliance on a Savior. I can personally attest that those who know great grief have a story to tell.
I met a student this past semester in my leadership class at Mississippi College who shared a story similar to mine: Her dad lost his battle with cancer far too soon. A bright young woman of God, Raley Holman was a joy to teach. One of the assignments I give students in the leadership class is to write a paper on someone who has personally influenced their life. The second part of the assignment is to give that person the paper.
As I read Raley’s personal account of her dad’s influence in her and many others’ lives, part of my heart broke knowing that Raley wanted nothing more than to be able to complete the second part of the assignment.
It has become increasingly clear that God wants this space to be used for the stories He has written in my life and others’ lives, so I asked Raley for permission to introduce you to Ron Holman, a man of God, a warrior until the very end, and perhaps most precious to Raley, a father. Raley writes:
“Growing up with Ron Holman as my dad was equivalent to being too close to a masterpiece of a painting (so) I was not able to appreciate (its) beauty entirely. The same guy that developed leaders in staff meeting on Tuesdays, preached from the pulpit on Sundays, traveled to help develop and serve other ministries all throughout the year, and the plethora of other titles he juggled was the same guy who never missed a Thursday night softball game, laughed with my family at the dinner table, and always prayed over me before bed every night. I never realized how many places he managed to be at one time yet also was able (to) maintain full devotion to every area he touched, especially home life. A good leader can be defined by several varying attributes but a great leader is defined by someone who understands their life is not about themselves and leads others to the One it is about through their actions and my dad is, to this day, the best example of a great leader I have ever seen. There are an infinite number of reasons my dad was and still is the best leader I have ever known. Not only because of how he loved and (led) my family but because of how he loved and humbly (led) every person he ever met. It has been almost four years and people still feel the loss of him no longer being here but because of how he lived, his life is still changing other people and I believe will for generations to come.”
Max Muller said, “I know well there is no comfort for the pain of parting; the wound always remains, but one learns to bear the pain, and learns to thank God for what He gave, for the beautiful memories of the past, and the yet more beautiful HOPE for the future.” I haven’t met Ron Holman yet. But I have hope that one day we will meet as believers in a God who restores all earthly grief for eternal joy. For many, this month brings the joy of celebrating fathers and maybe also the heartache of longing for a person gone too soon. Tell your stories, share your fatherhood journey, and above all, know there is hope in Christ that restores each of us.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Madison and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 7 years old, and a son, Russell, who is 5 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.