Two years ago, I sat on a beach in Honolulu, and pulled a book out of my bag.
I prayed over it before carefully placing in it our luggage and then again before handing it over to the airline to put on the plane. Because to me, it was far more precious than any other valuables in that bag.
I cracked open the leather bound book to the very first page which was dated Jan. 1, 2008, and in scribbles by my dad’s hand, it read, “This journal and pen were a gift to me from Connor for Christmas, and I decided to wait until today to write in it.”
I was stunned.
It had sat on my dresser now for four months since my parents death, waiting for this moment on the Pacific shore. Without ever realizing it was a gift from me in the first place.
I love how God puts puzzles together. He connects seemingly random pieces of life to create a beautiful picture of purpose.
I now remember going to the store and picking out this $10 book for Dad for Christmas. The pen and journal were carefully selected by Connor (who was two at the time) and paired with a package of Cajun smoked turkey jerky.
Now that same book now spread across my lap in Honolulu where Dad served in the Navy at Pearl Harbor then remained for four years after he was discharged, working as a trashman. He always wanted to go back, and this trip was dedicated to him.
God used this book in a big way.
It was like laughing and talking about life with Dad all over again.
Many of his entries started out with, “Went to Megan and Shawn’s last night for supper.” Or he would end a biblical reflection after his morning reading with, “Headed over to Meg’s house for coffee.”
In one entry about an especially discouraging day at work where I learned how hard it became for him to continue being a pharmacist after he became hard of hearing, his precious last line at the bottom of the page said, “PS. Connor’s brother will be named Logan William.”
The next day, August 20, 2009, he wrote, “It’s 5:35am and I’m going to Megan’s in about 45 minutes because she has to be at the hospital to be induced. Connor seems pretty wishy-washy about having a little brother. Shawn and Lynda will be in the room with her while Connor and I wait at the house until it’s the bottom of the 9th and we get a call to come out.”
I laughed because about nine hours later when Dr. Bennett told me it was almost time to push, I couldn’t find a single one of them. Shawn answered Dad’s cellphone when I called it, and in the background I heard, “Do you want that supersized?”
And it’s funny now, but when they turned my Pitocin down to slow my labor until the father arrived, it wasn’t just his Big Mac that was hot.
If I could, I would write out this entire journal in this column so you could be as blessed as I am, and I do plan to share as God leads me. But for now, I will leave you with this.
(January 3, 2008 written by Ron Ashburn)
“Years ago, I was thinking while eating an apple, ‘I’m of an age now that I should throw off any concerns about if people think I am a lunatic for believing in Jesus. I really need to shrug off this worry of others’ opinions.’
Spitting out an errant seed, I said to myself, ‘I need to raise children that make a difference in life, who succeed in whatever they choose because their dad showed them an undying faith.’
It seems like yesterday I was about 40-years old and I’m still trying now in my sixties to shuck off excess spiritual baggage because I didn’t do it then.
I think for years I did with my Bible the same thing I did with this apple. I spit the seed out on the concrete, thus ruining any chance it had of growing into a whole new tree, filled with fruit.
But I hope that this part of my life will be spent growing instead of rejecting, and that in the end I'll be greeted with, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant'."
I have a feeling that was exactly what he heard when he got there.