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“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11

A friend once noted, “Your dad reeks of integrity.” And he was right. I am blessed to have been raised by a man whose choicest swear words were, “Oh fish” and whose worst vices were peanut brittle, Pecan Sandies, and pocket watches. Some, however, may have considered his corny jokes a fault:

“I once dated a girl named Olive…until I took her to dinner and found out how much it costs to stuff an Olive.”

Dad had other unique ways of speaking. Instead of a simple “thank you,” when someone did something kind, Dad would respond, “I’ll dance at your wedding someday.” When my brothers and I were kids he often greeted us with, “Hey, Posqually,” or “Hi, Pastamazoo.” He nicknamed a granddaughter “P.M.” because of toddler legs in perpetual motion.

An elementary principal, associate pastor, and adult Sunday School teacher for 35 consecutive years; Dad crafted words for sermons, weddings, funerals, lessons, and principal’s notes. His greatest legacy, however, was not in his words. Dad was respected for his faithfulness, even temper, integrity, wisdom, and compassionate heart.  In over fifty years of marriage, he never took off his wedding ring. Not once. His was a life lived louder than its words.

One of my most vivid memories of Dad occurred on a hot day in late spring of 1987. I was headed home, south on Oregon’s Interstate 5, in my Volkswagen Scirocco. By the time I reached Azalea, an hour from home, I called Dad in tears. My Scirocco had stalled several times coming over Canyon Creek Pass, and each time I had watched my life flash behind my eyes as the rearview mirror revealed tractor trailers fast approaching my motionless vehicle. Dad blamed it on the fuel-injection system, told me what to do to my car, and said I would be fine.

As I continued down the road, I eventually stopped worrying about my car and started worrying about my recent decision to accept a teaching job in Nassau, Bahamas. I was driving over the Sexton Mountain Pass, talking to the Lord about moving to the Bahamas alone, when I recognized a refurbished red Corvair in the northbound lane. It was Dad. He had jumped in his car and headed for his girl. A paraphrase of Matthew 7:11 immediately came to my mind, “If your earthly father knows how to give good gifts, how much more your heavenly father?” I have never had a clearer picture of God’s love and care for his children. Through the actions of my earthly father, God assured me He would take care of me in the Bahamas.

I was gifted a dad who offered a glimpse of our heavenly father. And for the godly heritage he left, I am truly thankful.

See you later, Daddy. We’ll dance at the wedding, someday.

David Jenkins, 1927 - 2012

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