Tuesday, June 17, 2014

father's faith

The day after my third birthday, my house caught on fire after a propane tank explosion. I was in the living room of that house my parents had built watching Scooby Doo and playing with a new toy when I felt the entire house and its foundation shake. I heard the biggest BOOM imaginable and watched as the walls were literally uprooted from their foundations and previously hanging paintings crashed to the ground, shattering around the room. My mom ran down the stairs in her bare feet, whisked me into her arms, and ran out the door to find help.

It felt like a bomb, and while we didn't know what had happened, my mom knew we just had to get out. The fire demolished many parts of our house, and to this day the smell of ashes still reminds me of that day.

Last week, I learned a new detail from that day in September. I had always known my dad wasn't at the house when it blew, but I didn't remember where he was. He was an engineer who worked extremely hard--later starting his own company--so I guess I assumed he was working.

He was actually on his way to work, but he made a personal stop to meet someone before he got there.

Mickey Mantle was my dad's hero, and my dad stood in an insanely long line to meet him in Springfield that morning. But he didn't just want to meet him; he wanted to share something with him. My dad took him a long letter. In it, he told Mantle that he (Mantle) had experienced many victories; he had appeared in 12 World Series and his team had won 7 World Championships, to name a few. However, my dad said, "I wanted to tell him about the greatest Victory of all." My dad had learned that Mantle was sick, and he wanted to make sure he knew about Jesus Christ.

He could have just shook Mantle's hand, taken a picture and moved on. Instead, he took some time to write him a personal letter detailing the greatest victory of all time and the way Mantle could be a part of it. It might have actually insulted Mantle at the time...but years later, before Mantle passed away, he became a Christian. (Cool story about that here.)

No, I'm not telling you that Mantle became a Christian because of my dad. I'm not even telling you that Mantle read the letter. I'm just telling you that you never know when something seemingly small will become something insanely big to someone else, even if that person doesn't care at the time.

In fact, one of my dad's friends from waaay back contacted him several years ago to tell my dad he'd become a Christian and that he always remembered the way my dad honored God in word and deed on the baseball field.

And that is why my dad is my hero. It's also why my husband is my hero. Both have a reputation for reproducing spiritual believers. I wish I were half as good as them in that department. (I guess we will just have to adopt more so I can reproduce spiritual believers in our home, right Brad?)

Happy Father's Day (late, I know)!