One of my favorite people in my life was my father. How I loved him and admired him. The bible says to "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12. From my childhood the memories I remember of him were so precious. He loved us and looked after us. He called me a small daughter as I was the youngest of three girls.
He was a pastor and people loved him. We had to share him with others as he was out in ministry. Things I saw in him was that God was first on his list.
My mother wanted to send us three girls to a good school and give us a good education; so she went aboard to work as my father’s pastor salary was not enough. When my mother was away, my father got his sisters to come and help look after my sisters and I. Every payday he would take us three girls to the bakery and get the waiter to bring plates of cakes, buns and pastries so we can try them. And once we had enough, he would buy each of us a chocolate slab and take us home.
Our home was our church so every Saturday afternoon we would clean our big living room and put the chairs in line getting ready for service the next day. On Sunday morning we would wear our best clothes and welcome people as they entered our home for the church service. Each of us had a task to do - either to sing in the choir, give the hymn books or collect the offerings. We did all that with so much excitement. Every Sunday morning the worship team would practice and the house was always filled with worship songs.
My dad loved people, deeply cared for them, and would pray for them. And he was the best preacher ever. I used to take notes of his sermons and he preached so well. He had a good background of Bible knowledge even though he was born to a Buddhist family. Once he received Jesus as his personal Savior, he boldly proclaimed the good news of the gospel to his family and as a result, almost 90% of his family and people from his village came to know Jesus. He was originally from Banadarawella upcountry in Sri Lanka where the climate is like the fall weather with beautiful mountains and tea estates.
My dad received salvation in Jesus when one of his friends got born again and witnessed to him. Dad was a famous athlete; he ran marathons and won many trophies - but dad never boasted about them because he had won the best “trophy” of all – Jesus. He was on a race to win souls for Jesus. So he left his parents and his very good job at the Tea estate and came to Colombo where the weather was warm. He started going to church, attended Bible College, passed his studies, became a pastor, and taught in the Bible College. I have heard from many people who knew him that he was influential in bringing Christ into their lives and also giving them a hand in ministry.
He never owned a car but always on a motorcycle. I remember times when he would gather us together and teach us the bible per Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. He always wanted his children to serve the Lord. My second sister became a pastor so he was so happy about that. But he never got to see me serving the Lord like I do now - but he knew I had a heart for the Lord. Dad would play his guitar and worship God, filling our home with and worship songs. He had prayer meetings throughout the week and scriptures were on all walls. My sisters were sent to the school hostel to learn and at that time my dad or his sisters would take me to school. I remember train rides to school. I would ask many questions and he would answer them all.
My dad and my mom's relationship was tested and when I was doing my O/L, and it crashed. My father had to leave home. My mother had to go abroad to earn money. We were asked to choose. I was still small and everyone knew I loved my dad; but I only heard everyone blaming him.
With my father not at home, our home church gatherings stopped – so I went looking for a church. I attended a friend’s church and once I discovered the church my grandmother attended, I convinced my sister to attend and that was the church God had me bloom. The pastor was wonderful. I attended every service of many small groups, youth groups taught Sunday school kids and the worship team. I made lots of Christian influential friends. We did many things for the Lord.
On one Sunday with one of my friends, I went to visit my dad after many years. He embraced me and we cried and talked for some time and I mentioned to him that I am going to Canada to get married. He asked me if I had money and if I needed anything. I said I was fine. He gave me his blessings and then when I came to Canada, I kept in touch with him. One day I told my second sister about him and shared his number with her and she too got in touch with him. Finally, my mom and my eldest sister reconciled with him. He even came to visit my elder sister at our home and my grandmother reconciled with him.
When I visited Sri Lanka I went to visit him and he got to meet my sons; his first grandsons. I can still remember the joy he had in his heart seeing them and telling them he is their grandfather. He blessed them and prayed for them. He never got to see my daughter. I was expecting her and he knew that I had a baby girl. And he passed away in September 2017 as he was late for a church service and he ran and once he arrived he passed away.
He has finished his race and Jesus has called him home. I couldn’t attend his funeral as my daughter was only a few months old but both my sisters and so many spiritual sons and daughters attended and testified of how many people came to know Jesus through him. I sure do miss him but I know he is cheering us to finish this race with the cloud of witnesses in God's presence. My father was very influential in getting us to know Jesus and I am eternally grateful for him. Because of that, I found God and many generations to come will know Jesus.
Psalm 145:4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
So I shared this story about my father which was to say that we all have to serve the purposes of God in our generation.
It is said of King David in the book of Acts that he “served the purpose of God in his own generation” (Acts 13:36). David was chosen as a young man. He was groomed almost from childhood for leadership. God had ordained him for that calling. Despite his obvious fallenness and weaknesses, God would make David into a great king for His glory. It is also said of David that he was a man after God’s own heart.
As it was with my father, I trust that it will be said of us at the end of our lives, that we were men and women after God’s own heart and that we fulfilled the purposes of God in our generation.
The challenge before us is to face the opportunities and obstacles that God has for us in our time. We don’t know if these are the best of times or the worst of times. All we know is that they are our times. And God is raising up a generation of people for Himself.
I trust that we will be people who rise to the challenge that God has before us. He has been calling out from the world a people for Himself, and sending His people back into the world to be His servants and His witnesses for the extension of His kingdom, the building up of Christ’s body, and the glory of His name.
We confess with shame that we have often denied our calling and failed in our mission, by becoming conformed to the world or by withdrawing from it. Yet we rejoice that even when borne by earthen vessels, the gospel is still a precious treasure. To the task of making that treasure known in the power of the Holy Spirit we desire to dedicate ourselves anew.
I trust that you also will dedicate yourselves anew to the purposes of God. The task before you is to respond courageously to the challenges of your generation.
Perhaps it will be written of us: “They were the greatest generation. They were used more greatly and more effectively than any previous generation for the glory of God, and for the advance of His kingdom.”
Some elements of greatness for the glory of God I can think of are below.
The Great Commandment. We are familiar with Matthew 22:37-38. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Make it your priority every day and throughout the day to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
The Great Commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a).
The Great Requirement. What does the Lord require of you? Micah 6:8 tells us, “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
The Great Cost. There is a great cost to attaining greatness for the glory of God. In Mark 8:34-35, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
The Great Understanding. In 1 Chronicles 12:32 we read that the men of Issachar, “understood the times and knew what Israel should do”. They were people who acquired great wisdom. May we be people of wisdom who, like the men of Issachar, understand the times and know what to do.
We labor with the great hope that someday every knee will bow and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Friends, shall we rise to the challenge that is before us? Shall we fulfill the purpose of God in our generation?
How shall we respond? Shall we answer the call for our generation? Shall we fulfill the purposes of God in our time? Shall we achieve greatness in God’s kingdom and for His glory? Or will you play it safe?
I believe that one day it will be said of our generation that truly we achieved glory for God as we fulfilled His purposes in our generation.