February 19, 2014
These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Garth Callaghan is battling cancer. This is his second go-around with the disease, and his doctors say he has less than an eight percent chance of living for another five years.
Five years is important to Callaghan.
Five years is important because that's how long it will take for his daughter, Emma, to graduate from high school. When his little girl was in kindergarten, Callaghan started writing messages to his daughter on her lunch napkins. Some time ago Callaghan promised he would continue to keep those precious thoughts and sayings coming.
And, in spite of his future prognosis, it is a promise which he intends to keep.
Callaghan did some investigating and found out his daughter had 826 school days before her graduation. With that figure as his goal, he began to write. As I am composing this devotion, I can tell you he has finished 740 of those brief epistles.
Callaghan says, "At the end of the day, these notes might be the only thing my daughter has left of me."
Callaghan seems like a standup kind of guy. I say that because he is a man who believes in keeping his promises. That alone is a pretty unique quality. Still, there's more to this story than that of a father who believes his word ought to mean something. Callaghan is also to be commended because he has actually spent some time thinking about what is important and what valuable truths he wants his daughter to know.
Among some of those valuable truths are sayings like
* "Dear Emma, Everything in moderation. Except Awesome. You can never have too much Awesome. Love, Dad"
* "Do or do not. There is no try." -- Yoda
There is no doubt that those are wonderful bits of wisdom. Still, I hope Callaghan, and every parent, also shares quotes such as these:
* "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
* "Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God ... giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:10, 12-14).
Yes, it would be good if Callaghan shared such things with his daughter. It would be good if we all did.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, among the many things which I share with others, may Jesus always be first on the list. In the Savior's Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries