Faith of our Fathers

Cruising 263

With Father’s Day approaching, my thoughts turned to my dad and words from an old hymn echoed in my mind, “Faith of our fathers, living still…” My dad’s faith definitely lives on, so in his honor I’d like to share the eulogy I presented at his memorial celebration on March 9, 2009.

Richard R. Kain (1925-2009)

Dad left us a week ago and, as we’ve planned for this memorial service, I’ve not once thought of him as being in this casket—every thought has had more to do with the joy he’s experiencing in heaven—indeed, he’s more alive right now than we are because each of us is still in the process of growing old and dying.  He’s been there and done that, and death can no longer touch him.

So we gather here to celebrate his life—a godly man who was a husband, father, grandfather and friend; a man who loved peanut butter, followed closely by cornbread and fish, a man that we will never forget.

Several days before Dad went home I sat beside his bed in the early morning hours and asked the Lord what He would want me to say at the memorial service and, with Dad sleeping peacefully beside me, I wrote these words:

I sit with my dad in the darkness, but the dark is not really dark for the glory of God is here.  I’m certain angels are here too, and the time is coming soon when he steps into eternity and they escort him home.  Moments, hours or days—it’s very close.  This is a godly man, completing his last assignment on earth—dying.

I’ve observed death many times but its strange watching it happen in my dad.  I’m sure it seems like yesterday to him that he was a child—that he met Mom—that I was born.  Yet, it’s almost done.  The truth of God is evident—life, like the grass of the field; springing up, blossoming, flourishing and then dying in a brief moment in time.  Oh, but it doesn’t end here.  Dad has just begun to live—he’s run his race within the limitations of time and space and I sense that, even now, Jesus is pointing to him and telling all those around to watch the death of a saint—instructing the angels, who long to look into the things of redemption, mercy and the grace that is available to man.  He must be saying, “Look at Richard—this is how it’s done.  All of his human frailties are as nothing—this one loves me—no, even more, he adores and worships me.  And I adore him.”

Perhaps Dad tarries here for a bit as Jesus puts the final touches on his mansion—a beautiful dwelling in God’s city of golden glory—a home where there are no weeds to pull or sprinklers to fix—the perfect place for him to luxuriate in his Lord forever.

And surely, within that cloud of witnesses in heaven there must be such excitement—his mother just dancing at the prospect of hugging her son again—his brothers and sisters joyously anticipating his arrival; ready to show him around and introduce him to the joys of heaven that they’ve already come to know.

Oh, and there’s more.   My dad didn’t see himself as much—he didn’t have a clue about his value and the impact of his life.  But he was—no, he is—an evangelist and an encourager—and a singer.  Can’t you just hear him shouting and singing praises to God, as one after another the many people who are in heaven because he lived and was faithful are introduced?  A child from the days spent in the church nursery for whom he prayed, as he loved on him.  A friend or co-worker that was so impacted by his testimony that they gave their life to God, but Dad never knew it.  And then, there are those he never met because they were halfway around the world—lives that were changed by his faithful giving and his prayers.

We’re told that the believer will receive crowns of righteousness and life.  Can’t you just see Dad with his crowns standing before the throne and joining with the 24 elders to lay them at the feet of his Father in joyful adoration and worship?  And can’t you imagine God saying, “Richard, get up.  You are a joint heir with my son, Jesus—you are also my son and I want you to just get out there and enjoy the treasures that have been laid up for you!”

We see the shell of the man—Richard Kain, this saint of God who the Lord once told me was a pillar of the Church.  We see a body that lived 83 years and 8 months—a body that remained remarkably strong right up to the end and certainly didn’t look its age.  But that body, as dear as it is, is not my dad.  My dad is alive and he can see with vision as sharp as an eagle; he can hear with ears that comprehend frequencies far beyond human understanding.  He can sing with a powerful voice—not just the very nice and pleasant voice we’ve heard, but with the voice of a master singer.  Oh, and he can not only walk, but he can run—I can imagine him running and jumping and dancing around from the sheer joy of being able to do so without any pain in his feet, legs or knees—walking all over heaven and meeting all of his neighbors, and nobody telling him he can’t go out because he might get lost.

As he joins with that great cloud of witnesses, I’m sure there’s one more thing he’s doing—he is loving us.  He’s praying for his “sweet, beautiful, pretty-thing wife.”  He’s praying for his sons and daughters.  He’s praying for his grandchildren.  And he’s joyfully anticipating that moment when each of us, in our own turn, joins him in Glory.

Dad’s life is not over—it’s just beginning.

One final thing; Dad no longer needs our prayers, but my prayer on his behalf is that every one of his descendants will make the choice to develop a relationship with God—that Dad will ultimately receive one of the greatest desires of his heart—to be able to spend eternity with his family—including great, great-great, and great-great-great grandchildren yet to be born.  My prayer is that not one will be lost, even down to a thousand generations, but that all will enter into the fullness of Christ Jesus.  Because there are two certain truths that can be spoken of my Dad—and I speak in the present tense—he loves God with all of his heart, and he loves his family with a boundless love that cannot be measured.

…the time has come for my departure.   I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.   Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:6b-8


Peace, Be Still

Trinidad, one of California’s smallest incorporated cities, rests on the spectacular rocky Pacific coast about a half-hour north of Eureka.  With it’s own harbor, it is an ideal spot to take off for a day of fishing out on the ocean.

On this particular day, it was a beautiful morning and the water was calm and smooth when my dad and his brother took off in a 10-foot boat with a small outboard motor; Dad steering from the back and my Uncle Sarge riding in the bow.  Except for the fact that they weren’t catching any fish they were having a great time bobbing around out there in the ocean; undoubtedly telling each other some pretty tall tales as they waited for a bite.  But on California’s north coast the weather can be fickle and all of a sudden the mirrored surface of the water became choppy and the waves began to swell.  It didn’t take long for them to realize they’d better head back into the harbor before things got any worse; but the waves started washing over the sides of the boat and the motor got wet.  Dad tried over and over to get it started but it sputtered and died…sputtered and died…sputtered and died.  Finally he gave up and the brothers traded places, but Sarge couldn’t do any better and soon their little boat was half full of water.  They needed to bail and they needed to paddle but only had a small coffee can and one paddle to work with—it seems the boat was a rental and since the ocean was so calm when they left it never occurred to them that they needed to be more prepared.

As my uncle tells it, “I don’t know if my brother was praying, but I sure was.  We were way out beyond the bar and didn’t have any way to signal for help, and only the harbor master and our wives, who were at home miles away, even knew we’d gone out fishing.  I told my brother we’d better take turns trying to paddle so we could try to get back to shore before we drowned, but with only one oar we just started going around in circles.  I was bailing water out furiously and trying to keep the boat from sinking, but it seemed to be a losing battle.  Then I had the idea that we needed to try to get the bow of the boat headed straight for shore so that when a wave hit we could ride the crest of the wave as far as it would take us; and then once it played out, we’d paddle the boat around to catch another wave.  This took what seemed like forever, and each minute I was getting more concerned that we weren’t going to make it back to shore alive.  As the Pacific got rougher and rougher it also started to get dark—and cold!  Oh it was cold, because even though it was mid-summer the water was only about 45 degrees.  I was praying frantically ‘Lord, please don’t let us die out here—I have two baby girls at home and a wonderful wife, and I don’t want to leave them.’  Somehow we finally started making a little progress—with every wave we’d progress about 20 feet, only to be pulled back out about half that distance.  But we kept on and with each wave we’d get a little closer to shore.  Finally, much to our relief, we limped in past the bar, totally soaked from head to foot—we couldn’t have been wetter than if we’d have had to swim for it.  How that old rowboat stayed afloat out there in that squall I have no idea, except that it was a miracle.  When we tied the boat up and checked in with the harbor master, he said, ‘Boys, I sure was getting worried about you making it back in,’ and then he told us that they had completely closed the harbor to boat traffic..  He was sure glad to get his boat back in one piece, but we were just glad to be alive and on dry ground, and not anywhere near as concerned about his boat with its single oar and rusty old coffee can.  All we could think about was that we were heading back home to our families alive.  Richard and I didn’t mention going fishing again for a while after almost drowning in that cold North Pacific Ocean—we were more than happy to stay on the shore.”

Dad and Uncle Sarge certainly had a taste that day of what Jesus’ disciples must have felt like when they went out to sea with Jesus.  On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”  Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was.  And other little boats were also with Him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.  But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow.  And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!”  And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”  And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:35-41)

It is a valid question that we should still ponder today, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”  To try to define him by saying he is our Lord, our Savior, the Creator, the Son of God, Immanuel, the Word, the Lion of Judah; and then to go on and mention all of the other names by which he is known does not even come close.  And to speak of his love, his compassion, his humility, his wisdom, his humanity, and his obedience even unto death on the cross only scratches the surface of who he is.  To think that this Jesus, whose majesty and power and authority is beyond description, wants nothing more than he wants a relationship with us is astounding but true—that’s why he came; that’s why he died.  This Jesus is the One who can and will enter into the storms of our lives and say, “Peace, be still,” and once that happens we will never be the same again.