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Last Father's Day

Ken Endean's Story

In memory of Dr. Kenneth N. Gamble, BJU Class of 1959

As we relaxed together under the clear Arizona night sky, I sensed something was weighing on my wife.  “Are you okay?” With tears in her eyes she replied, “What do you give your father for his last Father’s Day?” 

Less than two months earlier, my father-in-law had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. While the prognosis for a prolonged lifespan was grim, his spirit was tremendously upbeat. In the over thirty years that I have known him, I’ve admired his consistency and his unwavering, steadfast trust in the Lord and His sovereignty.  For over sixty years, he had pastored the same church. With the news that his days on this earth would soon be ending, he found new energy in sharing the message of the hope of salvation. 

In him, I’m observing how Christians, with the hope of heaven, should face death.  He seizes every opportunity to tell others of his condition and the importance of preparing for eternity. He shares what God has done and is doing in the church and in his life.  His frequent comment is that “it’s all good.” He demonstrates a natural concern for what his family is facing, a genuine compassion for community and church friends, and a confident anticipation for what is to come. Rather than fighting to remain on this earth for as long as possible, he joyfully prepares to go to his eternal home.

He is living what he has preached—what he believes. He is demonstrating what the historian Alexis de Tocqueville noted:

In ages of faith, the final end of life is placed beyond life. The men of those ages, therefore, naturally and almost involuntarily accustom themselves to fix their gaze for many years on some immovable object toward which they are constantly tending; and they learn by insensible degrees to repress a multitude of petty passing desires in order to be the better able to content [i.e. satisfy] that great and lasting desire which possesses them (Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, 108).

Or to put it in Biblical terms, he set his mind “on things that are above, not on things that are on earth… and [his] life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3).

So, what do you give him for Father’s Day?  The books that he has always appreciated are difficult to enjoy because the nature of his disease makes reading arduous.  The anticipation of eternity makes the seemingly practical very impractical. He doesn’t need another shirt or tie. Practical gifts are impractical by their temporal nature. 

What did we give him?  My wife found a book of all 150 of the Psalms, beautifully illustrated.  The text will not only be familiar but will continue to be a source of comfort and strength. That’s what we gave her father for what will most likely be his last Father’s Day.  What he has given us is a personal perspective of how a man with a living faith anticipates dying. While the temporal becomes very impractical, the eternal is always pertinent.

It’s all good.




Written the week before Father’s Day, 2016. My father-in-law, Rev. Dr. Kenneth N. Gamble, entered the hospital on Wednesday, July 6th, and entered his heavenly home on Sunday—the Lord’s Day, July 10th.  Now, truly, it’s all good. ©

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