SEVERAL YEARS AGO I flew to California to visit my parents. My father, Lee Tripp, pastored in the Central California Conference for 20 years and at that time was pastor of the Sonora SDA Church.
Our visit went quickly, and soon my dad was driving me back to the San Francisco Airport for my return flight to Maryland. On the way we hit fog, which caused a traffic pileup. Nervously I looked at my watch. “Do you think I’ll make my flight?” I asked him.
“I hope so,” he replied, shaking his head. About two hours later Dad drove up to the curb beside the “United Departure Gates” sign. “I’d better drop you off,” he said. “I’ll park the car.”
He turned to my mom. “Why don’t you go with Lori? I’ll meet you both inside.” “OK,” I replied sadly.
Dad quickly unloaded my bags, and Mom and I grabbed them and hurried inside. When we got to the security checkpoint, I longingly scanned the airport for my father. “I have to go,” I told my mom with a sigh. She nodded, and we hugged each other. “Tell Dad bye,” I called behind me.
When I arrived at my gate, the airline agent had already called final boarding. I dashed in and found my seat. Within minutes the flight attendant latched the door and announced our departure.
As I looked out the window, warm tears filled my eyes. I hadn’t had the chance to hug my father goodbye and feel his strong arms surround me. As always, he
had prayed for me before we headed out the door to the airport, but now I missed his final words of love and care, his blessing on me.
Suddenly the flight attendant’s voice over the intercom caught my attention. “Passenger Peckham, passenger Lori Peckham, your father is at the airport counter and says goodbye and that he loves you.”
Now I really started to cry! But I also smiled. My compassionate father didn’t want me to leave without hearing his goodbye and assurance of love.
How like our heavenly Father! He sent His Son with a message of unbelievable love and compassion. And I think He wants us to hear and cherish His message to us: “I can’t tell you this face-to-face right now, but I love you and can’t wait until we’re together again.”
He promised, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). “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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2, 3). That’s our blessing and our hope.