There's something special about earthly fathers, especially those who show us glimpses of our heavenly Father.
My own dear Daddy met Jesus when he was in his late thirties—it was he who led my mother to his Lord; it was she who was the most verbal of the two. Daddy only had an eighth grade education and I think it was hard for him to put deep thoughts into words. Maybe that was why I always listened when he had something to say.
I'll never forget the day he became so excited about the word “uttermost.” An unearthly joy sparkled in his brown eyes as he entered the back room where I lay curled upon the bed, reading. He carried his open Bible in one hand and something about him almost seemed to dance where he stood.
“Jesus saves to the 'uttermost,'” he exclaimed. “To the uttermost'. Do you see? The 'uttermost!'”
The way he said, “uttermost” caused me to picture a curling wave holding a sailor in its grip. I imagined Jesus leaning down and snatching the man from the foaming sea.
Then Daddy said it again, “Jesus saves to the 'uttermost.'” The way his tongue rolled around the word “uttermost” made goose bumps pop up on my arms. Suddenly the small child I was realized being saved to the “uttermost” meant something much more than a helpless swimmer snatched to safety.
I knew instinctively that “uttermost,” the way Daddy said it, was something mysterious and wonderful--something which embraced forever. “It went far beyond space and entered eternity. “Uttermost” had something to do with being near the heart of God and to my child's perception that was a glorious nearness and my heart was filled with awe.
Many years later, I stood beside my father's bed at the VA hospital. It had been eight years since Daddy had recognized me as his daughter. But that day—four days before he entered heaven—I saw something in his eyes. I leaned over the railing and took his hand. “Daddy,” I whispered, “it's your Eva Jane.”
He beamed, but no words came as I began to share the things I hadn't been able to tell him during his years of darkness and confusion. His eyes twinkled as I told him of my growing family and how my first book for teens was being published that spring.
I remembered that long ago day from my childhood. Holding his hand, I read the 23rd Psalm. “You know Him, Daddy," I said. "He's the Great Shepherd who saves to the 'uttermost.'”
His fingers tightened around mine. I saw recognition and a little smile flash into his tired brown eyes. I saw peace. My Daddy was ready to see His Jesus.
As I held his gnarled, work-worn hands, I thought about the verse he'd read to me. It was from Hebrews 7:25 KJV “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
It has been well over 30 years since Daddy went to heaven. I think of him often, and I smile. In my mind’s eye I see his eyes sparkle, and I hear the excitement and wonder in his voice—his words echo down through the years to find their home in my own heart and soul… God, who saves to the “uttermost.”