My dad comes from a family line of Navy SEALs and I was told that back in the first days of SEALs they were taught NOT to believe in a god so that it would be easier for them to do their job which usually consisted of killing men, women, and children - no matter their age.
Without a belief in a god there would be NO conscience moral accountability and their #1 focus would be to complete their mission. Their full allegiance was to the United States.
America was their queen and she was to be fully protected - no matter what.
Now, I don't know if that's what caused him to not believe in a god but at any rate, my dad was very vocal about his atheist belief and his disgust with church leaders.
So, how did he end up with my mom who was a devout catholic committed to her religion??
He rescued her from my first dad who was literally beating her close to death. I've heard stories about how he literally went in and brought her out. Yep, like a badass.
He was her "knight and shining armor"...well almost. More like her boss turned bodyguard husband. Their partnership and marriage was beautifully unique.
He took it upon himself to protect her and, in exchange, she cared for him and his son. He was a single dad.
And when I was seven years-old he became the man who would raise me in my most formative years (7-14) before leaving home.
|"Rina, remember how I raised you! Don't force your god on people!" - Dad|
I was the typical step-daughter that tested his boundaries to see how much this man loved me, yet, hungry for as much approval as I could get to match the approval from my first dad.
As I sit to write this, I can honestly say, he couldn't approve of my ways because he didn't understand me but he absolutely loved me.
He didn't love me in the ways my first dad did but he did love me in his own way and because of that I wanted to share the gospel of Jesus with him. No matter what.
In Janurary of 2015 I got my chance.
As I was scrolling through Facebook I saw that one of my siblings had shared that he was in the hospital and was asking for prayers. I quickly texted her to inquire details and to get their contact information. When I left home, I left everything. So, I didn't have any information about my parents or their whereabouts.
However, that day something deep inside my gut said "Surina, it's time."
Before calling him I asked a team of prayer warriors to pray for me to have an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus. It was my hope that he had changed his mind about a belief in a possible god and that maybe he could consider Jesus Christ from the Bible.
When I was a young girl I asked him why he didn't go to church and he told me that "there is no god" and if there was one he wouldn't want him because he had done "too many bad things". And if he did go into a church "the walls would crumble."
Now, as a little kid I believed him because he was a man of war...BUT... as I grew up and got to learn more about WHO Jesus was and WHY He came, I knew MY DAD WAS WRONG!
I wanted to let him know that Jesus came for stubborn wayward asses just like him.
He was the perfect example of WHY Jesus came.
I was really nervous to call my parents because I hadn't spoken to my mom in almost a decade and my dad in almost two decades.
My relationship with my mom was always strained and I was use to it but I expected more from my dad and he failed miserably. He knew it, I told him. He hurt my heart and at eighteen years-old I stopped talking to him.
Over the years I would hear of him being sick, losing body parts or having surgeries and I still wouldn't call him.
One Christmas (a decade into our separation) I sent him a very personal gift and I was told that he cried upon opening it which made me cry and, yet, I still wouldn't call him and he wouldn't call me.
This was our uniquely personal relationship.
I honestly believe that because our relationship was so uniquely personal God was giving me an opportunity to share the gospel with him.
So, with all that was in me... I made the call.
|Facebook is like a time capsule of your daily life. Somewhat like a journal. I'm grateful for it.|
On my first call my dad was asleep and so I caught up with my mother about his health. It was definitely time for me to call home. He was very sick. I told her that I would try again the next day.
The next day I called and had a conversation with my dad that I will never forget. It was definitely time for me to speak to him. He was refusing all treatments and was willing to suffer the consequences including death.
For 18 years there was silence between us and now we were trying to play catch up. He had so many questions for me.
He didn't know that I had given birth to a daughter and that I had married the father of both my kids. He asked me if my husband treated me well and I told him that I was safe and was being treated very well. I made him laugh when I emphasized that my husband was "a white man" because as a young angry teen I promised him that I would marry a black man and have black children just to piss him off.
Our relationship was always so sarcastic and hearing him laugh brought back so many memories.
After we stopped laughing I finally got to ask him the one question I had been waiting to ask:
Dad, are you still an atheist?
After a long pause he said,
"Rina, it's complicated but I can't say that a god doesn't exist."I then shared with him that my family goes to church every week. He asked me if it was Catholic and I told him no, it's nondenominational Christian and that my husband was a Christian and that we were attending his church.
There was a longer pause, so much so that I said "dad?"
And then it came:
"Rina, you can't listen to those preachers. We've talked about this. They lie. All of them........."
"Yes, Rina. I've read the whole thing."Of course, I already assumed he did because my dad was sort of a history buff and so I felt stupid asking the question. But I continued on anyways: So, then you know about Jesus Christ?
"of course."Dad, who do you think he is?
"he's one of the great prophets."So, if you've read the Bible and it says that he is god then what makes you not believe that?
"Rina, the Bible is a book written by men. Moses would be more likely to be god."Why do you say that?
"You know I've been all over the world. I've lived in both Israel and Egypt. During my operations I saw everything that Moses wrote about up close. I've walked through all the biblical ruins and I've been into areas where the common public doesn't ever get to go. That's why I believe in the Old Testament. I've seen it. What did Jesus ever write about to be seen? Nothing!"Dad, Jesus didn't have to write anything because all the writings penned by the Old Testament prophets, including Moses, were about Him. His job was to fulfill ALL that was written about Him. He didn't have to write about all the miraculous healings he preformed -- He just did it. And there were witnesses. They all saw His work. The New Testament was the fulfillment of the Old Testament. That's why you can't separate them. If you believe the first portion of the Bible because you saw the writings to be true, then how can you question the validity of the second portion when it's all in one book? It makes no sense.
There was another long pause...
"I don't know, Rina, I'll have to think about it. But just remember how I raised you. Don't believe anything that anyone says, not even me, but if you end up believing something... you better know WHY."Dad, that's why I believe that Jesus is God. I know my why. I've read the book from cover to cover and I don't understand it all but I do believe it all.
"Okay, Rina, he's your God but just remember how I raised you. Don't force your god on other people. Let them choose for themselves."As he was talking I heard my mom in the background (who must've been listening to our conversation) say:
"Daddy, it's okay. You know Rina has always done her own thing. So, she's not Catholic. Let her learn."And with that a sigh of relief came over us both as we ended our conversation chuckling over the priest that just entered the room and my dad saying:
"love you kiddo but I gotta go. Your mother just brought me a priest."So much for choice. LOL!!!
|Acknowledgement of a god is better than denying that any such god exists. Jesus can work with that and in the life of my dad, I believe He did. He had the faith of a mustard seed.|
Growing up my dad always told me to question everyone especially spiritual authority. I don't know if he was even aware that he was actually teaching me one of the most important scripture warnings in the Bible. 1 John 4:1 states:
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
Thanks for the warning dad! I heard you loud and clear!