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In My Father’s House

A grieving daughter finds comfort and evidence of God’s love in her father’s favorite Bible passage.

When I was a teenager, I overheard Dad telling my mother, “Of all the passages in the Bible I think this is my favorite: ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you.'” In the years since, I have heard that verse many times, but never have I heard anyone put emphasis on the second part as Dad did.

I think that statement meant so much to him because of his tumultuous early life. When he was only 12, his home broke up due to the stress of family deaths, illness and poverty. The children were sent to an agency and then farmed out to different homes. The man who took in Dad treated him cruelly. Dad ran away, and for years he was homeless, surviving by picking up odd jobs. In his early twenties he finally settled down. He met and married my mother and together they raised a family. Dad always made sure to give us the happy home he had never had.

When I turned 17, I married and moved to the West Coast. Even though I couldn’t see Dad often, we stayed in touch through letters and phone calls. Then Dad’s health began to decline. He struggled for years with diabetes, arteriosclerosis and Alzheimer’s. When my mother could no longer care for him he had to be admitted to a nursing home.

I was devastated when I received the call telling me Dad had passed away. After explaining to my children what had happened, I went to my bedroom for a while. Lying on my bed, I recalled the little Baptist church that we attended in East Delavan, Wisconsin, and the Sunday night when Dad and Mom responded to an old-fashioned altar call. For the next several years I had watched their faith grow.

Now as I wept for my father, I wondered why his life had been so brief and so difficult even though his faith seemed so deep. Just then my thoughts were interrupted by a sound at the door. I looked over and saw little fingers pushing a sheet of paper through the gap underneath.

I picked up the paper and read the childish printing of my eight-year-old daughter. When I opened the door I saw her slipping away. “Rachel,” I said, “where did you get this?”

“Well, Mommy,” she said, “I knew you felt sad about Grandpa and I asked God to please give me something from the Bible to help you. I opened it up and copied a verse.”

On the paper was John 14:2. Then I was comforted, knowing Dad finally was in the heavenly home he had cherished. If it were not so, I would not have been told.

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