I usually bring all my staff to the Promise Keepers conferences, but last year I didn’t have any staff to bring so I asked everyone I knew to come with me to the conference in Edmonton. Each person I had asked had plans—except for one. I finally gave into God’s gentle nudges to invite my unsaved dad, which I was resisting because he was so adamantly against anything Christian.
After many excuses, my dad finally agreed to come. “Friday night only,” he said. Turned out he liked Friday night so much he asked if he could come on Saturday too! I was astonished, and I looked forward to Saturday. But what I saw happen to my dad next was beyond what I had even hoped for. Three times that day, the Holy Spirit moved my dad to tears!
Dad talked of that experience fondly, but with no apparent commitment to following Jesus. He did mention that he needed to make some changes in his life, starting with how he treated my stepbrother (who was living with Dad and my stepmom due to disabilities). He also talked about having more respect and love for the brethren. Other than that, dad just seemed to carry on his way.
Long story short, dad’s journey on earth—and his fight with cancer—finally ended on February 25, 2018.
I am so pleased to say that on the Tuesday before dad died, a retired pastor led him to the Lord! Dad’s response was “It felt like my face got washed on the inside—you know, like they talked about at Promise Keepers.”
Dad slipped away peacefully about an hour after watching the hockey game with my sister between the Oilers and the LA Kings. Dad loved his hockey—as does my sister—so it was very fitting.
I used an analogy from that game in Dad’s eulogy, since there was a dispute over the final goal. In the same way that the referee had to make a call in those final moments, God was calling my dad home, and his grace was sufficient to save him.
On my first Sunday back to church after Dad’s funeral, the fellow leading music that day unknowingly picked a song that was sung at the Promise Keepers conference I had brought my dad to. I believe this was God’s way of assuring me my dad is with him now.