The words were lodged behind the lump in my throat. I had thought about this moment for months. What if he is offended? What if this changes our relationship? How will he react?
Finally, in his storage house, while working on fishing gear, I posed the question: “Dad, are you confident that if you were to die tonight you would be with Jesus?”
Some of the most difficult people to talk to about Jesus are those closest to you. Why is it so much easier to take the message of the gospel across the world, but taking it to the next bedroom or across the street seems to be an impossible task? You don’t want to make things “weird” in your relationship. You don’t want to seem judgmental. For heaven’s sake, if anyone knows you aren’t perfect, it’s them!
My father was a man’s man. Tough as nails, a hard-working butcher by trade, levelheaded, and a quick decision-maker. He was driven and focused. This didn’t make the conversation very easy to start. I knew my Dad set church as a priority because we rarely missed a Sunday. He loved people and was compassionate toward their needs. My dad was also a very ethical man. It was evident by his fruit that he was following Jesus, but we had really never talked about his belief and trust in Jesus.
His hard demeanor quickly softened as we spoke. The question started a wonderful conversation about his faith, and I learned things that I had never known before. I learned of how intentional he was with his fishing buddies and the ongoing gospel conversations he had with them. It also opened the door for future conversations with him and others in my family.
In his final few months of life, friends and family flooded his home. I listened as he spoke of Jesus and heaven with all of them. On the day of his funeral, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who confirmed how much he cared about them and told stories of how he impacted their lives. Many of those with whom he shared the gospel were in attendance in a church for the first time. As I preached his funeral, I was so glad I started that conversation years before.
Men, the best gift you could give your father and children is to verbally share your faith in Jesus and tell them your story of how a heavenly Father has changed your life. Start the conversation.
(This column was excerpted from Clamp’s book, “Close Encounters: Sharing Jesus with Someone You Love,” available at CourierPublishing.com.)