I received an email stating that “sometime next week,” they were going to spread my father’s ashes. If I wanted to go, my aunt, my dad’s new wife, and my brother were probably going to be there.
I sent back a reply, saying I had no plans to attend, but out of curiosity since my dad owned two residences, was the ash-spreading going to be in FL or RI? I got a reply, “RI, off Beavertail.”
Beavertail is a lovely promontory with a lighthouse overlooking the Bay and was a favorite place my father liked to go. The family would take Sunday drives and would often end up there, the salty wind whipping, the whitecaps on the bay foaming, picnics on the hill, searching for periwinkles in the tidal pool.
It makes sense that they’d want to spread his ashes there. It will make for a poignant send off, and all three of those people who will probably be there will in all likelihood feel saddened and melancholy and perhaps smile wistfully at some memories. None of them are saved by grace of Jesus so none of them know the truth.
My father never repented of his sins and right now is in hell, paying for them. It is where he will be forever. There is nothing one can say at any kind of a trumped up ceremony, ashes flying in the wind over the sea. I will not be present when his ashes are scattered, but I will be present when his ashes are re-gathered and he stands before the judgment seat.
And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:13)
Knowing this, it is a hard thing, but I trust my Lord and it is a just thing. There but for the grace of God go I. John Prata’s legacy is a sad one. His heart is expressed in the form below. His Trust reads thus:
The legacy of a hard and bitter man, angry and proud, is an eternal one that he will have to bear for all of eternity. It will be an agony.
It is a hard thing for a daughter, who still hoped against hope that somehow, she could make her daddy proud. That he cared. That somehow underneath it all, a dad really loved his children. That never mind the inheritance, somehow there would be a final letter, an acknowledgement, a word, saying, “It was all a mistake, I loved you after all.” How can it be, that a father can coldly ignore his children while he is alive, then go to legal lengths to prove his rejection wasn’t a mistake? Isn’t blood supposed to be thicker than water? Triumph in the end? No, blood is only as thick as the sin that runs through it.
His rejection is being turned back upon himself at this very moment. He is learning the sin of exasperating and rejecting his children. (Ephesians 6:4). He is learning the cost of rejecting Jesus. (John 3:36). And he’ll soon learn the finality of Jesus’ rejection of him. (Revelation 20:15).
My sadness over my father is going to be short, not eternal like his. When I die, my inheritance will be manifold. My Father will never leave me or abandon me. I am provided for. The emotionality of wounds on this side are softened by knowing that I have a spiritual joy to look forward to of a real Father who provides and loves and cares and does not forsake His children. My sadness now will be wiped away by my real Father then. The contrast is stark.
–The legacy of an angry and bitter father who split his family and reveled in wounding and rejecting.
–The legacy of a compassionate and holy Father who gathers His family and revels in restoring and reconciling.
–The legacy of a proud and greedy father who held on to money more than love but now has neither- forever.
–The legacy of a generous and benevolent Father who delights in giving as one of many expressions of His unconditional love.
If my father sought to permanently hurt or wound by that final pen stroke on 15 September 2009, he is sadly mistaken. My real Father promises:
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” Isaiah 65:17
I will be so consumed with the joys of the New Heavens and New Earth and being with Jesus that my mind will have no room to be wounded over the petty pen strokes of a man who for 50 short years was named a “father” to me, a relationship that will soon not even have any meaning, (Psalm 27:10) a person whom the Lord in His grace will allow me to forget.
Yet though his life was long, his memory will be longer, eternally long.
“Are there not many here that have lived long in the world, that are not to this day born again, and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath? Oh sirs, your case in an especial manner is extremely dangerous; your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Don’t you see how generally persons of your years are passed over and left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God’s mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and wake thoroughly out of sleep; you cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God.” (Jonathan Edwards)
When my father woke, it was not to mercy but to wrath, it is too late for him.
No, I have the better part, the much better part. Peace with Jesus, an infinitely long communion with Him, and good and serviceable tasks to perform for Him, worship of Him, in short, enjoying Him forever. There IS a blood that is thicker than water, thicker than anything on earth or heaven. It is the blood of Jesus. This blood covers sin, sustains us as a family, keeps us in His fold.
This is much more pleasing to the Lord than the stained and angry soul that descends to the pit, with the daughter looking down and mourning that final rejection.