Dad is gone, and I lost the one person who ever thought that I was totally great. There wasnít anything I couldnít do, any event that I couldnít overcome, and any great news that could be completely accepted until I had given the last, true analysis.I believe Dad heard it.
I want you to remember that Dad was seventy years old when you were born, and into his eighties before you became conscious of him as a person. So in making your judgment of him, remember that you only knew him as a very old man, out of his era with his values, tenants, and lifestyle of another time. He was thirty-one, at one time as you are, a blonde headed, blue-eyed, intelligent young man.
Iím not going to talk about any faults because the "Man on the white horse" has erased all of these. Most of the things he could be criticized for was a result of one of his greatest assets - total dedication. When he was nineteen years old he had a vision - maybe a dream to you - where God came to him and said, "Short, I want you to preach". He could neither read nor write but he dedicated the rest of his life to carrying out what he believed to be a mandate to learn all he could about the Holy Bible, and spread that knowledge to everyone he could. Maybe this meant walking sixteen to twenty miles down a sandy East Texas road to get to a small country church, or maybe hitchhiking from town to town, eating hamburgers, and sleeping if fifty-cent flop houses trying to talk some Baptist preacher into letting him preach, if not on Sunday morning, maybe Wednesday night. He never wavered from his purpose, no matter what the cost to him, nor would he permit one word of the Sacred Book to be changed, added to, or subtracted from. He was about as welcome in the large rich churches as Paul of Tarsus or John the Baptist would be were they to come back today.
When he got too old to travel, he wrote small tracts, or books, on the vital teachings of the Bible. He never sold these books for as much as they cost to print, paying the difference out of his small pension. Up until he was ninety-five, he walked from door to door, day after day, never being discouraged by discourteous people, vicious dogs, or inclement weather. His only pay was an occasional kind word or meeting someone who was truly interested in his teaching.
In modern terminology, Dad knew "where he was at". He was a Christian seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. The same drive that took him from door to door trying to get people to listen to his message was the same drive that took Paul of Tarsus all over Asia Minor.
I admired Dad for many reasons. Dad was a clean man. There was never a day in his life that he went without a bath. Sometimes it was a sponge bath with a wash pan, cold water, and lye soap, but he kept himself clean - physically, mentally and morally. He shined his shoes, wore a tie and brushed his teeth. Maybe his tie had gravy on it when he was too old to see, and maybe his suit was spotty, but his dignity and pride were there always. About two hours before he died, he asked Geneva to brush his hair because he said it was "messed up".
When a wealthy man dies, at an appropriate time after the funeral, a meeting of the family is called and a will is read. There will be no such reading for Dad. Most yardsticks of success are based on how much money did you make? To the pursuit of making money, Iím sure he would have succeeded. You notice that I said making money, and not riches because he achieved peace of mind - the greatest of all riches. I wonder what would have been the result if he had dedicated that same mind that mastered Classical Greek at the age of fifty, memorized the entire new Testament and graduated with honors with a Master of Theology degree at the age of fifty-five. Add to that the strong body, good health, absolute dependability, thrift, and diligence and he had more than many rich men, had he not been marching to a different set of drums. When he came to the end, it was as if Paul was talking for Dad in his Second Letter to Timothy when he said, "I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith".
If your two little boys should inherit one fourth of Dadís courage, they will have inherited much more than money. As Kipling said:
"If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
to serve your turn long after you are gone
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
except that will that says, "hold oní.
And when at last your weary feet
shall come at last to the end of lifeís journey
And from your nerveless grasp
shall drop forever the working tools of life
And your soul, freed from earth,
shall stand naked and alone before the great white throne
May it be your portion to hear from Him who sits there-on
"Well done, my good and faithful servant".