Doug Karst

Kansas City, USA

I remember the last time I saw my Dad

I was three years old the last time I saw my Dad.  It was a cold January day in 1968.  My Dad was a pilot in the US Air Force.  We were gathered as a family to say goodbye to my Dad before he left for a year in Vietnam. 

 I remember being confused, 11 months later when two Air Force officers showed up at our house, telling us that my Dad was on a reconnaissance mission when radio contact with him was lost.

 He was originally listed as Missing In Action, and we had hope that he would be found safe and that he would come home again.  But as time passed, our hope that he would return faded, and for me, the optimism that he would come home turned to fear and insecurity about my own future. 

 After his status was changed to Presumed Killed In Action, the reality that my Dad was not coming home left me searching for something that I could be confident in.

 A few years later when I was 12, my mom was re-married and we began a new life in a new home.  The changes in life only added to my insecurity.   I remember the summer after my 7th grade year.  I was at a church summer camp, lying in my bunk one night listening to my cabin counselor explain a verse in the Bible.  Understanding this verse gave me the confidence and security I longed for. 

 This verse, in the book of Ephesians, says that eternal life is a gift that cannot be earned by good works, but is received freely by faith in the finished work of Christ who died on the cross on my behalf.  I remember from that moment on being 100% confident that if I would die, I would spend eternity with God in heaven; not because of what I had done, but because of what Christ had done for me.

 That was many years ago and in those years, I have learned a lot about God’s love for me and His plan for my life, a plan that is full of hope for the future.  

 I remember sitting around the kitchen table on the day of my High School graduation my mom gave me a letter from my Dad.  It was written to me for my 4th birthday, while he was in Vietnam.  In that letter, he wrote that He loved me and he explained why he couldn’t be with me that day,  that sometimes sacrifices have to be made in order to secure the freedoms that we enjoy. 

 His letter reminds me of the Bible, God’s love letter to His people, which tells of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us to secure our freedom and a future filled with hope. 

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