Intimidation

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5–6)

As a little girl I presumed that nothing intimidated my dad. He was six feet tall and oversaw his busy haberdashery in Kingston, Jamaica, with a revolver tucked into his waistband for protection against gunmen. If any thing broke, he fixed it. If anyone had a need, he assisted. From my perspective, troubles were scared of him.

Later I discovered that, in fact, he had encountered many challenges that might have crippled a lesser man. He was over nine years old before he met his own father. Then when he turned eleven, my father’s dreams of becoming a physician shattered when the optometrist said, “Take this boy out of school and teach him a trade. He’s going blind!”

At sixteen, my father traveled alone by ship and then train to New York City for a cornea transplant at a time when the procedure was considered experimental surgery. The operation was a huge success, but an onslaught of typhoid fever reversed the outcome. During one feverish episode, as his body reacted violently, my father experienced God’s presence in a life-changing way. For the rest of his life, my dad looked at the world through a deformed cornea and thick-rimmed glasses—but with a crystal-clear passion to love and serve the Lord.

I remember entering the ICU cubicle the morning after my forty-eight-year-old mother suffered a massive stroke that robbed her of mobility on her left side. My father was leaning over her bed, singing softly, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone. Because I know, I know who holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because he lives.” That song landed right in my favorite column after that.

I knew that over the next eight years as he painstakingly cared for his wife, my father had staked his life on that song’s message. Verses like Proverbs 3:5–10 defined him. God could be trusted and my dad would not depend on his own wisdom or strength. He had learned early to “be not wise in [his] own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).

At every opportunity, my father reminded his five children and twenty-one grandchildren: “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce. . . Do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof. . .Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver. . . . Do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck” (Proverbs 3:9, 11, 13–14, 21–22).

My father never lost sight of these principles. If he were here today, I imagine he would still be instructing all of us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Great words, I believe, that only get better as I age.

Elizabeth A Mitchell

(Photo Credit: One of my wonderful siblings. Going to say Souhila Calder to be safe!)

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10 Comments

  1. Lois

    What a Son-filled photo! You have been blessed, and you so faithfully bless us who read your blog.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Mitchell

      Lois my friend. How lovely to hear from you. I miss you while you are away

      Reply
  2. Wendy Larson

    That song makes me weep, how precious was that encouragement to your mom! What a godly man and tremendous leader for you all.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Mitchell

      Thanks Wendy!

      Reply
  3. Chrissie Meacham

    Hello Elizabeth, Such a beautiful picture and testimony of your father’s faithfulness to the Lord and his family. His life was truly a reflection of your Heavenly Father. ❤️

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Mitchell

      Hi Chrissie. You said that exactly right. Good to hear from you my friend

      Reply
  4. Treasha

    Thank you ❤️

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Mitchell

      My joy!

      Reply
  5. Marie Fredericks (your Dad's former caregiver )

    What a beautiful photograph of you both and what a lovely picture you painted with words of Mr. K as I used to call him. What a godly man he was and he blessed so many of us. There were many nights when he quoted that song ” “Because He lives” as He graciously bore his pain in his last days.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Mitchell

      Marie. Thank you for sharing that with me. You were a true blessing to Dad and to all of us!!

      Reply

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