I wanted to share one more thought about my Daddy before I head to bed for the night.
I have so many fond and cherished memories of my Daddy and the goodness he brought to my life. There were so many times that I failed him — that I thought I had lost favor in his eyes – I know there were many, many times that I disappointed him and let him down. However, there is one time in particular that I recall the most.
It was the summer I turned 17 years old, 1983, and this was the summer before my Senior year in high school. It seems that from the age of 13 and up until that summer (and way past it too, if I were to be honest) nothing seemed to fair well with me. I drudged through one crisis after another and my Momma and Daddy probably felt that I would not survive to adulthood — either because I killed myself or they killed me, LOL.
I can’t remember the circumstances that led up to this afternoon, but I remember well the consequences of those circumstances. I had once again failed to meet some expectation, and always being harder on myself than anyone else could ever be (this is something that still rings true for me even now), I anticipated the fallout with my Momma and Daddy.
In that anticipation, I decided to “fix” it in my own blundering way and — RUN AWAY! My goodness, can you think of any way to only escalate a problem more than running away from it?? To ease your mind just a bit, let me assure you that I didn’t run so awful far away — I ran to the other side of the lake to my “second” Momma’s house, Christie Nielsen! Not only did I just run away — I employed my youth pastor’s son, Jerry, to transport me there.
My Daddy, being the wise and most able policeman that he was, knew exactly where to find me. Did he wait for me to come home on my own?? Of course not! He decided it was time to teach me some police “brutality” and came to fetch me right home. He barged into Christie’s house, twisted my right arm up behind my back (like a common criminal) and started hauling me out of her house. I dug my feet in for all it was worth — I cried — I screamed — and then I said those three words that I could NEVER recall: “I hate you!”
I fell to the ground — out of hard-headedness, out of anger — but mostly out of shock — I had let roll out of my mouth words that would forever sting — hurt — pain…not just my Daddy, but me, as well. For at that tender age of 17, I had not yet learned Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” My Daddy had not learned it either.
Proverbs 12:18, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” was far from my mind and Daddy’s.
What we had reached instead was an impasse — a gulf that would span for several more years — he frustrated and feeling defeated — and me more detached and willful. I would not learn or understand the harshness and permanency of my words until much, much later in my life — I would not feel the full impact of them until May 1998 — although my Daddy felt them immediately.
My Daddy went home to be with Jesus in 1998 — but not without bridging that gulf between us one more time — while he had forgiven me many years before his death — while I had said a million “I’m sorrys” and ten million more “I love yous” — his words of healing and forgiveness touched me more profoundly 2 days before he died and this is the telling …
He had my Uncle Tommy call me from his ICU room that day. Uncle said to me, “Tammi, your Daddy is here and he wants YOU to pray with him.” He cradled that phone receiver up to my Daddy’s ear and Daddy said, “Baby, I’m going to die now.” I said, “Daddy, I know and I will pray with you.”
I don’t remember that prayer — the words that I said — I only remember the unspoken words between a Daddy and his daughter — words that echo through eternity — words of sweet forgiveness — of the grace he had extended me oh so long ago. At that moment, I not only saw and earthly Daddy, who had adopted me at age 4 and loved me as his own — but I saw him mirror that same love the Lord Jesus had for both of us — another adoption — a grafting into the True Vine.
You see — God used an earthly man — tall and lean, strong yet crippled with arthritis to show me a picture of Himself!
I am so thankful for Jim Shook — I’m thankful he fell in love with my sweet Momma — I’m thankful he found me worthy to be called his daughter — I’m thankful that I knew him — but most of all — I’m thankful for his humility and for humbling himself before the Cross of Calvary — what a beautiful picture — what a beautiful legacy of two fathers — an earthly one and a Heavenly one — bridging the gap for a lost little girl.