This morning James Robert Donnelly (1931-2014) was taken by the hand of the Lord into Paradise.
Born into a poor household abandoned by his father, his first memories were of a kind family court judge ordering child support for him and his brother. Raised by a loving mother, grandmother, and great uncle, he grew to understand personal responsibility even in the midst of poverty. He married a kind and friendly young woman from a good family, and 58 years, three children, seven grandchildren and one (forthcoming) great grandchild later, he is having an impact even in his passing into eternity on all of us as individuals. He was my wonderful father.
He was a father for all seasons, for all times, for all circumstances. Dad was there for every good grade, every bad grade, every car wreck, every speeding ticket, every educational decision, every accomplishment, every failure, every financial decision, every mistake to be fixed, every celebration, always inspiring with his "I think you can do anything" speech. He loved fabulous vacations, took us to church, took joy in sports, and taught us to do the same. He loved life, and he loved our mother. He loved us.
Dad was a picture of God's perfect love and grace at every turn. Wherever any of us were in the wide world we knew our father was always there supporting us, proud of us, loving us. Though he grew up without the benefit of a father, he was an incredibly intuitive and loving father, thoughtful, gracious, kind, firm, and he reflected for us here on earth a picture of the heavenly Father, for our welfare, and to lead us to Christ.
Indeed, "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, now how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:11-13. The Lord Almighty is the father to the fatherless, a defender of widows (Ps. 68:5). He was father to my father, who is now with his Heavenly Father, God in His holy dwelling.
While all of our family are deeply saddened at this great loss to us for now, we are also rejoicing that our beloved father is now in the presence of the Lord and does not have to suffer the pain and agony of a failing physical heart. He truly had a strong and loving heart, and he will never leave our memory. Our father for all seasons, now with the Heavenly Father in glory.
Fathers change the world. My father challenged me to do the same. May the Heavenly Father be our example always - our father for all seasons.