He could be hypocritical, cruel, manipulative, and self-serving to the point that I had friends confide in me after we were grown that he’d approached them and tried to talk them into confronting me on how fat, big-mouthed, and physically unattractive I was, as if it was how they themselves felt. He did this because he was convinced that if I heard it from someone I liked and spent time with, and was humiliated enough, I’d suddenly do what he wanted me to do.
He’d done this throughout my life with favorite teachers, relatives, and older kids I admired, and it had always left me stunned, deeply hurt, deceived and betrayed. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that he’d approached my friends about the same things.
But it did. And it hurt…a lot.
It was wrong of him to do those things, of course. And that he never repented to me or tried to make it right has left a cavern of “Why’s?” in the pit of my aching soul.
Oh but there were some things he got right; very, very right! Some of them I discussed in the tribute article I wrote on the one year anniversary of his funeral.
But this particular moment with my dad I’ve only told to a select few. I suppose it’s because it is so sacred…and because it changed the way I forever viewed freedom and this world in which we live. This moment with my dad was indeed a “God moment;” a moment of pure truth so Holy that you hold your breath to match the sudden stillness of the world, in an almost-expectation of hearing a Heavenly chorus drawing nigh.
My dad was a walking encyclopedia on WWII. It was his passion. I grew up in Idaho, and one day while I was walking home from high school a Neo Nazi wearing a nice suit, and seemingly well-educated and polite, handed me a pamphlet, smiling. I took it and walked away, then stopped as I read the first of a slew of lies. I was shaking by the time I opened our front door, and paced until my dad got home so I could show it to him. As he read it I was waiting for him to join me down the hall, heading for his room to get some guns.
But instead he said, “Resa, remember all the Saturdays you spent on the family room floor, watching VICTORY AT SEA and WORLD AT WAR documentaries with me? Remember how upset and crying you were whenever they showed the footage of the concentration camps? Do you know who did that filming and preserved it? General Eisenhower. Before the landing at Normandy, he had commissioned dozens of army film crews to accompany him as they pushed toward Berlin. Most thought it was for himself, because he was planning already to run for President. That wasn’t it. The leaders of this country knew about the Holocaust, they knew what we were going into find, especially Eisenhower, who led the European theater. You’ve seen the Rated G versions on TV, Resa, and no matter how horrifying they were, none of them compared to the things I’ve seen in archives (my dad was a Federal Parole officer, and often while at training in DC would go to the Federal archives and watch footage from WWII, including Holocaust footage deemed too horrific for public consumption.) I’ve seen the raw footage, the stuff that I will never in all eternity forget, the stuff that left me in a stupor. I could hear the comments of the cameramen and directors, their fury, I could tell when the camera was shaking because of the rage or tears, and always my own would follow at what they were seeing.
“Resa, do you know why Eisenhower had hundreds of thousands of hours of footage shot, footage so horrific that most cannot make it through a solid hour of it? He was actually asked that once by a reporter. He turned to him and said, ‘Someday some son of a bitch is going to try to claim all of this never happened. When he does, this will be my answer.’ No one ever asked that question again.
“Eisenhower knew the pattern of history. He knew that as we are further removed from events, be they heavenly or hellish, the less they are remembered, and the more the wicked will downplay them, even question if they actually happened. So long as he lived Eisenhower would NOT allow that to happen. All those hours of footage, so horrific that some of those filming later experienced slow suicide through drinking and other self-destructive behavior, were Eisenhower’s silent answer to such wretched lies. So the losers behind this pamphlet remain self-condemned demons. Their deliberate ignorance and willful embrace of the lie makes them part of the wrong team, and you and I know that all of history, all of heaven and hell, rebuke them for eternity.”
He handed me back the pamphlet, smiled, and started pulling on his tie as he headed for his room.
I was stunned for a minute. Surely such lies demanded a butt whoopin,’ and I was determined to see to it. I wasn’t some baby, after all…I was 15! Practically old enough to vote! So I followed him to his room, determined to get him to come along on my ass kickee plan.
“But dad, you’ve always taught me that this is how a people succumb to evil, that it begins with lies NOT being called out, so we should run them out of town, painfully if possible! If we don’t stop this, young kids without parents like you will fall for it! America will fail!” **I was also mentally saying, The moon will turn to blood! The sun will go dark! Jesus will smite us and we will totally deserve it! I could be a bit dramatic back then!**
And then a moment I will never forget, that moment of still Deity I mentioned earlier. He looked at me and patiently told me he felt the same way when he was 15, ready to “force” people to do the “right” thing. And then he said someone had quoted this old hymn to him, which so affected him that he immediately took the time to memorize it:
Know this, that every soul is free,
To choose his life and what he’ll be.
For this eternal truth is given:
That God will force no man to Heaven.
He’ll call, persuade, direct aright,
And teach with wisdom, love, and light;
In nameless ways be good and kind–
But NEVER force the human mind.
Hard to believe, but I was speechless. I couldn’t get all of this out of my mind, and before bed that night I got out our old hymn book and memorized that song. I have never forgotten this exchange, or that hymn, or my dad’s perfect wisdom in how he handled that particular learning experience. I’ve told it before in similar situations, and those of light always remember it, and have pressed me to write it down.
And now I have. Our job on this earth, after all, is to testify of all truth, and to choose sides, truth or lies, every single day. Inevitably, however, the less spiritually mature will try to blame God for not intervening and stopping evil from touching us. This is not noble, not good, anymore than carrying your toddler everywhere so he will never fall down is “compassion.”
Some of the time, when people want to know why God doesn’t stop evil, it is because we are free beings by His decree, and therefore must be free to choose for ourselves for “full judgment.” Father gives every opportunity for man to learn, and to repent, if necessary, and follow the right path. At the judgment, many will try to claim they “weren’t so bad.” They will try to claim they weren’t given the chance to choose right.
That is when Christ will say, “Roll the tape!” And before them, and all of Heaven including us, every second, every thought, every four-letter, rated X secret second of their lives (and ours too, btw!) will display in full, color, 3D glory…or condemnation. They will see, and be compelled to admit to all of those chances they had to make a choice, the right choice, and then watch themselves choose evil, with their thoughts at that moment laid bare for all to witness, knowing it was the selfish choice, and knowing that we now know it too. Witnesses will be called forth to testify of that choice. The consequences of those choices (which are more opportunities for them to stop and change course) will play out as well, which will also testify for or against them. They will then, through their own mouth and admission of who and what they are, condemn themselves. That way, they cannot say it was unjust; their own mouths will know it was a “fully just condemnation or glorification.” It will be an eternity-sealing moment.
Just as it was a life-changing moment all those years ago, for one riled up 15 year old, and I thank God that Neo Nazi was there that day, preaching an evil that my dad turned to great good in one solitary life.
Dad, you done good that day, and to that I’m proud to bear witness.
Keep the faith, bros, in all things courage, and no substitute for VICTORY.