The wind whipped by me as I flew down the mountainside on the Alpine Slide. I could taste the fresh, earthy air and smell the cold in the breeze. I was 11 years old and my family and I were at the fun park in Breckenridge Colorado for our summer vacation. While the landscape passed me by, I remembered carefully all the warnings Dad had given me at the top.
"Whatever you do, don't lean into the turns."
"You'll go faster but it could flip the sled."
"Ok, Dad, I won't."
"Ok, don't forget! Don't lean into the turns."
And with that, he let me go. Now, I forced myself to resist the urge. I'm a daredevil at heart and the thought of picking up speed thrilled me. I couldn't do it though. I had told Dad I wouldn't. I made it to the bottom breathless and laughing with the excitement.
Dad was last to come down. My siblings, Mom and I stood at the bottom, watching as Dad started his way down. He was carrying the diaper bag and tote bags full of snacks and extra clothes. At first, he started much the same as the rest of us. About halfway down we saw him come to a turn and he leaned, ever so slightly, into it. I held my breath, fully prepared to see the sled-on-wheels turn over. But it didn't and Dad picked up speed.
I can't deny that I was really impressed. That was my Dad, and he was coming down faster than anyone else had. At the next curve, he leaned again. This time a little more. I saw it wobble a little before stabilizing and shooting faster and faster down the mountain. I held my breath. He was almost to the bottom, if he didn't lean into the next turn, he should make it all the way down.
I guess Dad was having too much fun to notice how unstable the sled had become. The next turn came and he leaned into it more than ever. All of us held our breath as the sled jumped the side of the track. Then it overturned completely sending Dad sliding down the track and diapers, sippy cups, snacks and clothing flying everywhere.
Thankfully, besides a few scrapes and bruises, Dad was just fine. Nothing was really hurt but his pride. So much for showing off to his kids.
Later, we all laughed about it together. Because that is the kind of Dad he was.
Christ Changes EverythingHe was a risk-taker. He was spontaneous. Fearless. He had the best sense of humor and we never went on a vacation without coming home with a good story.
More importantly than all that, he understood that we don't have any time to waste here on earth. We are all on a journey that has an end. God calls us to enjoy it to the glory of Christ and let His light shine.
Dad had his priorities straight. Christ comes first, then his wife, children, and work. But he wasn't always this way.
Before that, he was the kind of kid who took change from the offering plate to buy candy after church. He was the kind of student whose essay on the Boston Tea Party said it was, "When a bunch of guys sat around in Boston drinking tea."
When he gave his life to the Lord, it changed everything.
Christ came first in everything. He worked three jobs to support his young family. He taught hundreds and thousands of kids in all the schools he worked at that their lives have meaning and a purpose. He stood up for what is right no matter the cost. He became the kind of man who had a vision for the future generation. The kind of man who counted it a joy to share in Christ's suffering.
How do I know all this?I wasn't there for most of it, but I know because Dad believed that stories are important. He wanted us to see God's grace in his life.
Looking back, his whole life was a picture of God's grace in the hearts of sinners. From beginning to end it is a witness to the power of Christ's love. Christ's position at the very center of his life was not just another good thing about him. It is what made him great.
Dad and I had a relationship that most fathers and daughters of this generation never get to experience. When I had something on my mind or heart, I told him. Even the things that most girls only tell their giggling girlfriends. He loved playing his guitar while I sang. He teased me about wanting to hold his hand all the time. He never forgot to remind me of how proud he was of me and he always made me feel loved.
It is my prayer that one day I will understand life like he did; that I will do things for the same simple reason that he did. Because it is the right thing to do.
Dad's LegacyHe was a risk-taker. He was spontaneous and fearless, with the best sense of humor. But he was also on a journey. Even though his journey is ended, his legacy will live on.
Life isn't about finding happiness or fulfillment. It isn't about peace, hope or love. It's not about triumphs or hardships or joy or pain. It is about Christ and Christ alone. And Dad's prayer was that His name would be glorified to the ends of the earth.
~ Sarah Leana