10 years ago, just three months before my wedding, one of the dearest people in my life disappeared.
He left behind him a wife, six children, and the church he pastored in a little village in the north-west of France. In the eyes of the world, he may not have been the most successful man. He was neither rich, nor very influential and did not have a great career.
How do you measure a man?
What determines the value of a man’s life? The challenge in the question is that by looking into the answer, I am providing a measuring tape against which my own live will be laid. Therefore I can be tempted to value a man by the things that I have been successful at. Anything else would be to admit that I have failed at making my own life count.
So how do you measure a man? The Bible provides some clear defining lines as to what is meaningful here on earth.
"Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love"
Love is the answer
What is love? My definition goes as following: “love is a movement of the heart towards another person, with their best in mind, leading to goodness in action and culminating in self-sacrifice.” A simpler definition is simply “living for others”. Why then do I consider Dad to be one of my greatest examples? A man that leaves a good career in England to go to France as a missionary is not living for himself. A man that starts a church in a village of 3500 people is not living for himself. A man that raises up 6 children is not living for himself.
I have many good memories of my father, such our the weekly family times, his wisdom, his ability to challenge me…One day he called me into his office, read revelations 3:16 (So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.), and then confronted my lifestyle. Funnily enough, I really treasure that moment.
But most of all, I admire his capacity to focus on the eternal. He knew that life would be short, and lived for God and others. That is why I am certain that he had few regrets when dying, even though he was far from perfect. While I was certainly saddened by his death, I want to echo my mother’s attitude at the memorial service. She started dancing and singing for joy while people looked awkwardly at her. “Has it snapped for Mrs Hockley?” Actually, with her thoughts turned to heaven, she was the clearest minded of us all.