|Ray Gustafson, my dad, on a fishing trip|
When I was a rookie free-lance artist, Dad overheard a telephone conversation between an art director and me in which I was hesitating about taking an assignment. I finally decided to take the job, and when I got off the phone, Dad asked, “What were you hemming and hawing about?” “Dad,” I said, “I’m not sure I know how to do it.” That’s when Dad gave me the best advice of my career. He said, “Why don’t you just take the assignments and then learn how to do them?”
Dad lived his life that way—without fear or hesitation. When he was pastor of a church in Vancouver, Washington, he took on the task of renovating the church building, and, with the help of some other volunteers, did a beautiful job. Nobody told him he wasn’t a builder.
Later, when Dad was pastoring in Fort Dick, California, he saw the need for a Christian School, so he found a way to get one set up, and served as principal of a thriving school for several years.
More recently, Dad stepped into his most challenging role as caregiver to Mom, when her body and memory were failing, and we saw in him a patience we didn’t know he possessed.
Dad was always intensely interested in heaven, and even more so after Mom went there in July, 2007. Shortly before he joined her, he told me, “I think about heaven all the time; that’s all I think about”. (This was, of course, after the Superbowl and before March Madness.)
Dad loved the words of Jesus:
“Let not your heart be troubled;
You believe in God, believe also in Me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions:
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and receive you unto Myself,
that where I am,
there you may be also.”
I am forever grateful that God gave me this father, and I look forward to seeing him again one day. If he could share with us today about what’s really important in this life, he might quote the words of the Apostle Paul:
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18