Rev. Mark H. Creech
Christian Action League
It was Robert Orben who said, “Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards.”
The blessing of a good father is a priceless gift and something to be highly honored.
My father passed away on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. His departure has caused me to consider the profound influence that he had on my life. Over and again, I have found myself thanking God for the abundant grace he made manifest in the man I called, Daddy.
Three events stand out.
Daddy had found Christ when I was just a boy and so I grew up in a Christian home. When I was a teenager, he said to me, “Son, you are old enough to understand the Bible now. I think you should start reading it. Read just a chapter or two each day. And most importantly, before you read, always ask God to give you understanding.” Because I was already spiritually inquisitive and had great respect for Daddy, I took his suggestion seriously and did exactly as he advised.
Each night, I would sit in my bedroom and read the Scriptures – always remembering to sincerely ask God for wisdom. At such a tender age, sometimes the passages written in King James English were very difficult to comprehend. But all the time I was reading, God was working in my heart. I was beginning to understand many things and finding more and more the Bible’s teachings pertinent to the circumstances of my life. Moreover, when reading the Gospels, the person of Jesus Christ would literally leap off the pages at me.
The time would come, and almost imperceptibly, when I realized my heart was completely surrendered to Christ as Lord. Even though I was young and had never dabbled in anything grossly immoral, I still had a strong sense of my sin, and fully understood the only hope of being saved was grace – the grace God bestowed on me in Christ on the cross. I was a changed young boy with such a powerful newfound faith and zeal for the Savior, some of my schoolmates started to refer to me as Jesus Creech.
I cannot adequately express the joy of it. I found Christ because my father knew Him personally. He would point me to the Living Word in the Written Word. I know of fewer lessons of life so critically important for a parent to pass along to their child.
Later in my teens, my faith having deepened all the more, I would commit my life to the Gospel Ministry. During the end of a Sunday evening service, our pastor conveyed he felt that God was saying someone present was being called into “full-time Christian service.” He was rightly sensing providence in action. For God was making it clear by my pastor’s remarks that He was calling me to be a preacher. I felt as if God himself had directly pointed me out in the service. That night I came forward and privately prayed with the pastor. Afterward, in the car on the drive home, Daddy asked what it was that I had committed my life to do for the Lord. I remember telling him I had surrendered to preach the Gospel of Christ. Daddy simply said, “Well son, if God is calling you, make sure you keep that commitment.”
For some reason, unbeknownst to me at the time, my father’s admonishment seemed to seal the deal. Of course, I had made my commitment solely out of obedience to God. But years later, I would learn just why my father’s words were such an integral part of my calling.
After some training and marriage to my wife Kim, I took a small church in rural Greene County, North Carolina, to become their pastor. The day of my ordination service, my father let me in on a long-time secret that he and my mother had shared. Daddy told me that when he first became a Christian, he knelt in prayer and asked God to take one of his children for “full-time Christian ministry.” He said he never spoke of it because he didn’t want me to feel any undue pressure. If I was truly being called of God, he said, it would prove to take place without his urging. He needed to make certain my calling was of the Lord and not because of anything he had done.
Indeed, my calling to life eternal and my commission to serve as a minister – was a work of God alone – but then without my father’s faith as the pilot light to start the fire – none of it would have ever happened.
Several years ago, the late Dan Fogleberg composed and wrote a song about his father, titled, “The Leader of the Band.” Even before my father’s recent death, whenever I would hear the lyrics of that song it would make me think of him with tearful affection.
The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.
Yes, the leader of the band has closed his eyes now. And, I’m just a living legacy to his life in Christ.
I honor him today as we take him to his rest.