For a few hours today, we’re in Clawson, working in the house where I grew up. And perhaps for the last time, I’m sitting at my father’s desk.
It’s an ordinary, old-fashioned wood desk, simple and functional. Under the glass are his favorite calendar pictures, and along the edge are wallet-sized photos of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. On nearby shelves, many of his books are missing now, given away or taken by family members. But there are still two rows of Bibles and biblical reference works, including his beloved Strong’s Concordance. As his eyesight began to blur in his last months, he asked me, “Who do you think would like my Strong’s?” I had to tell him gently that no one needs Strong’s anymore. Online tools and software have replaced the life’s work of James Strong, S.T.D, LL.D, who published the first edition of his concordance in 1894. It was Strong’s life work, a unique and ground-breaking reference listing every word in the Authorized and Revised Versions, from “a” to “Zuzims”. Dad’s is the 22nd printing, 1955. It was always at hand when he was studying, along with the works of his favorite authors: Tozer, G. Campbell Morgan, Spurgeon, Simpson, and also more contemporary authors.
My dad was a life-long Bible student and teacher. His relationship with Christ was the foundation of his life, and though he never attended college, he was a better educated than most college graduates today. For as long as I can remember, he taught an adult Sunday school class at the church he had attended since 1953. When in his eighties he retired from teaching, the church honored him with a special event, complete with banner and framed “Faithful Servant Award.” Like James Strong, the Word was the center of his life, because through studying its pages, he grew in his relationship with Jesus, and shared what he learned with many others, not only by formal teaching, but by the example of his life.
Dad’s desk is in the basement, and on the other side of the block wall he built to divide the space is his shop. Those two rooms are where he spent most of his free time. While the television entertained the rest of the family upstairs, he spent his time in these rooms. At his desk, he became the man of God whose simple faith touched many lives, and in the shop he crafted the things that we treasure because he made them, from simple peg games to clocks made from different woods that he harvested himself or that were given to him by others.
Missing you today, Dad, but I know that thanks to the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf and the grace of God that reconciles us to Him, we will be together again. . . forever.
Maybe I will take that Strong’s after all.