I saw my dad for the first time, again. I saw my dad for the first time since he left our comfortable home in Southern California for the shores of Japan last week. He was there, in the thick of it all when that 8.9 earthquake rattled that small yet dense nation. He felt the ground shake for what seemed like an eternity. He saw the usually calm and courteous natives scramble for safety. He experienced the destruction. And when I saw my dad tonight for the first time since the catastrophe, it seemed like the experience had rattled much more than the ground.
Now you have to understand, my dad is the epitome of the stoic Chinese man: emotions are scarce and mental stability is his claim to fame. But to see him tonight, rattled to the core by what he saw, dazed and confused by what had taken place in the recent days—my heart broke. He told me about how he was fortunate to have escaped the northern shores the morning of the quake, unknowingly blessed by a business meeting that he had to attend. He described to me the scene during the quake, people yelling and running outdoors. He told me how he was lucky to have even gotten a ticket out of Japan, and described the thorough radiation check all passengers were subject to before leaving the country. He told me how surreal it felt to be standing on solid ground.
We only talked briefly. I was only able to listen, but not speak that much. My mind was racing, trying to search for the right words to say to him, to encourage him, and to use the opportunity to minister to his heart. I told him I loved him. But as his son, there was much more that I wanted to say.
I wanted to tell my dad that his son was on his knees praying for him once he learned of the news. His son felt the urgency of reaching him by any means possible and sharing the gospel in full with him again and again until the Lord was gracious enough to grant faith. His son wanted to tell him about how Jesus had saved him from the devastation of sin, how salvation was a free gift granted to those who believed, and that an eternal life with the Lord awaits us on the other side. His son couldn’t sleep. His son couldn’t possibly bring himself to do schoolwork, or return to normalcy around friends under such nerve-wrecking circumstances. His son prayed that God would grant them more moments together so that the saving grace of Jesus Christ would be expounded a third and fourth time—or as many times as it took. I wanted to tell my dad that his son waited to hear from him for two full days, and for two full days couldn’t do anything but remind himself about the goodness and graciousness of the Lord.
Thankfully, God has given me another chance. God has given me my dad back, and it is a gift I will cherish the best way I know how: by sharing the gospel.
To even think about losing a parent is difficult, but to lose one who is without saving faith is devastating. This week, I was awakened to my selfishness in not doing everything in my power to evangelize to my father. It’s sad that it took such an event to awaken me to my careless demeanor. It took a natural disaster to make me see my dad as not only my father, but a man in desperate need of Christ in his life. I praise God for giving me another opportunity to share the gospel with him, and for his promise of patience toward us.
I know many of the readers of this blog either have parents or family members who need to hear the gospel. I exhort you to take them into consideration now, with urgency. The Lord is patient with us, yes, but there is no excuse not to utilize every opportunity for the sake of the gospel and the glory of God. People need the gospel now more than ever.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9