7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15: 7-10)
My father was a middle school teacher in a city with many immigrants and refugee children from the second world war. There were Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Polish, Serbs and an occasional Jew. Many children came from single moms since this was a textile city. So naturally he was a flaming liberal. But he had a very developed sense of right and wrong. He had a way with children, so the administrators gave him a large number of children from broken homes. He always tried his best to help them succeed in spite of hardships, and even now, 60 years later they call my mom in thankfulness, even going so far as to say “He saved my life”. Then in the 60’s and 70’s he saw the excesses of a socialist government, year after year taking more than the salary increases in additional taxes, so the take home pay every ear was a little bit lower. Meanwhile we had raging inflation. After his retirement my mom took a job as a therapist for people with cognitive challenges. Many had been in state facilities all their lives. The social administrators decided one day that they too should lead normal lives and gave them a dinner at the town’s most expensive restaurant. Not only did they not appreciate it, but they wanted to go back home and eat what they were used to. When my father found out the size of the bill he said bluntly: That’s it. From now on I am a conservative. But now he had to search out, how shall we then live, so he started going back to his childhood faith, the faith he abandoned as a young man because of the hypocrisy he saw in those to proclaimed to be Christians.
Meanwhile my wife and I had been saved and one of my brothers married a strong Christian, and he searched for the truth.
At his funeral we sang Eventide (Abide with me), and looking through his writings I found this poem:
There is a road that’s leading heaven bound.
A strait and narrow, not like others found.
It ends abruptly at a raging sea,
Don’t doubt, your faith your wanderer’s staff shall be.
That road is leading homeward just the same,
through evil seas of sin, and guilt, and shame.
There is a bridge appearing on the scene;
To land that no-one mortal ever seen.
This land of hope and grace and peace sublime.
Thank God, You let me find that road in time.
Written by my father (in Swedish) in 1978.
©Lars Bilén 1978 (1912-2004), tr. Lennart Bilén 2015
Wow! Looking at the poem I heard the roaring sea and i heard Finlandia in my head for the first verse. Then for the second verse, Eventide became the obvious choice.
My father indeed found the only way, reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Only a few years later he lost much of his creative abilities, but he was ever thankful God had let him find that road in time.