Matthew, Mark, Luke and My Dad

My dad’s birthday is this Sunday. He would have been 72 years old. However, he died when I was twelve years old. His name was John Simmons too. I was named after him.  After he died, I was given his Bible, wedding ring and watch as keepsakes to remember him. At twelve, the watch didn’t fit and I had no use for a wedding ring. The Bible – which was a long out of print translation from England called the New English Bible went on my shelf for years.

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I could have opened up that Bible. I could have tried to find happiness in its words to fill the void in my heart that my dad’s departure left in me. I didn’t. Instead, I blamed God for the loss of my father. I blamed Him for decades. It wasn’t until I was 29 years old that I finally realized my blame was place in the wrong direction.

I’ve always been a procrastinator. I learned that word in 4th grade when my teacher, Ms. Thomas, called me one after I was late in turning in a project. “You avoid doing what need to be done,” she said after I asked her what the word meant.

A few years later, I was nearing the end of my 7th grade year and had a project due on Monday morning. I procrastinated that weekend to the point where I was going to bed Sunday night without having done any of the work.

At that point in my life, I had been spending a lot of time at church making friends in the youth group. I remembered being taught that I could pray and ask God for whatever I wanted. So, that Sunday night, I prayed and asked God to not have to go to school the next day.

When I woke up, my pink bedroom clock said it was after 8am.  School had already started. I thought, “my prayers had been answered!” A few moments later my mom walked in my room. Her long face was red and puffy with I immediately knew that she had been crying and that something was not right. She stood over my bed, grabbed my hand and said, “We lost your dad last night.”

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Tears were shed, questions were asked and answered. In the days that followed, my house was flooded with friends and family. I remember our refrigerator being filled with more food than I had ever seen stuffed in it. The youth pastor tried to console me. I feigned emotions I wasn’t sure I had. I cried tears of sorrow, but I had a burning anger in my heart towards God.

I was taught at church that God answers prayers. I had also been taught that God answers prayers in mysterious ways.  I had prayed for a night off school. The next day, my dad was dead. I was off school for more than a week. I remember thinking, “If this is the way God answers prayers, I don’t want a God like that.”  I spent decades after this moment thinking I unknowingly prayed for the death of my father.

As I grew further away from God, sin burrowed deep inside the hole that remained in my heart when I took God out of it.  My story of addiction and how I found Christ is one I’ve told many times. I was 29 years old the night I found salvation. It was also the first night I opened my dad’s Bible.  I hated God for a long time, but kept the Bible because it belonged to my dad. When I opened it, I was shocked to find the words that I was reading jumped off of the page and into my heart.

I had heard others describe the Bible as a book of outdated rules for old people and that it had too many hard to pronounce words.  I was finding the exact opposite experience as the Holy Spirit was present in my life for the first time. He was revealing truths and opening my heart to see the Bible as truth and not just some old historical text. 

I had no idea I was so thirsty for these words. I spent that first night with God reading the book of Matthew several times.  When I moved onto read the next books of the Bible, Mark, Luke and John, I thought my Bible was broken because the stories were the same!

Along with God’s word, this Bible was filled with my dad’s handwritten notes in the margins.  I had never seen them before. I was overcome with emotion. My dad loved Jesus. I never knew that. I don’t remember him ever talking to me about it while he was alive. However, since he’s been gone and I have stopped procrastinating on being a Christian and reading my Bible, God has allowed my dad to teach me new things long after he’s been gone. Also, his wedding ring is now my own and since the watch finally fits I wear them both every day.

The holes in my heart, once so big and empty, have been filled by the love of Christ and the memory of the time I did have with my father. I’m sure there are others like me – who blame God for the loss of a loved one or are angry because of what their life now looks like.  God didn’t do those things. The enemy is has come to steal, kill and destroy.

The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 

Jesus came so that you can have a more abundant life. Don’t avoid making Him your Lord and savior any longer. Fill those holes in your heart. Don’t blame God for what’s happening, allow Him to help.  God’s word can jump off the page and into your heart. Open up your Bible, you may be surprised to see what happens when you stop procrastinating.


The New John Simmons writes a blog post every Monday - Friday.