I picture a farm house surrounded by a large covered porch shaded by big oak trees when I envision your childhood. I can visualize you, your 4 brothers and two sisters running and playing in the cotton fields occasionally taking breaks to lay in a pasture littered with bluebonnets. I imagine daily Tom Sawyer-like adventures!
Accurate or not, that’s how you retell your childhood. Your outlook always finds the good in your circumstances, in people, and the memories you choose to relive.
Many times you’ve shared the moment you made the life-changing decision to give your life to Christ as a young adult. For whatever reason you immediately went “all-in” with your faith. Soon you “surrendered to preach” even though no one in your family had ever done such a thing.
You love ministry, going to church, and preaching God’s word. You love to laugh, eat ice cream, and go to a restaurant for breakfast on Saturday mornings. You love to relive good memories and take long drives in “the country”. You love your family and you love my mom.
Despite an entire lifetime of personal health struggles from epilepsy, tuberculosis, kidney failure, years on dialysis, a kidney transplant, diabetes, and multiple heart attacks, you continue to be the most positive person I know.
Your life of deep faith influences me more and more. I’ve always known I’m sitting on your shoulders with my ministry. As the years go by, I become more and more aware and grateful for the opportunities that your faithfulness has given me.
Some of my favorite moments with you revolve around ministry:
At the age of 12, I remember preaching my first sermon at Park Street Baptist Church. I was standing behind the pulpit and I was so scarred. As I unzipped my Bible cover, I was trying to figure out how I could back out. I looked over and you quietly smiled and nodded. I immediately felt the confidence to begin my 5 minute sermon.
Right after Ginger and I were married we were in town to visit your church one Sunday. During your sermon you said, “I want to welcome ‘the Mark Riggins’ family here today. My son and his new wife Ginger are here.” You smiled and I could tell you were proud.
Last summer I visited you in your hospital room. I told you I thought God was leading me to close the church I had planted two-and-a-half years earlier. I told you I was worried what people would think. You said, “Who cares what people think? If God wants you to close it that’s all that matters.” I already knew that. But it sure helped hearing you say that.
Last Fall you prayed for my family the night before we moved from Texas to California. You were too emotional to complete your prayer as you were trusting God’s will to move me. You didn’t know it but I was recording that prayer on my iPhone. You can watch it HERE.
Dad, I’m so grateful for all that you stand for. My life is so blessed largely because of your faithfulness to our wonderful God. I love you Dad. Happy Father’s Day!