by Jase Robertson
By now, you might know the story of my dad’s life. If you haven’t heard it or read about it, here’s the most blunt way I can describe it: Phil Robertson wasn’t a very nice person from about the age of seventeen until he turned twenty-eight. In a lot of ways, my dad was an outlaw. He had no regard for rules, authority, or what was right or wrong; his only focus at the time was getting drunk and killing as many ducks as possible. And anyone standing in his way, even his own family, ran the risk of getting hurt.
Don’t get me wrong; Phil Robertson eventually became a great husband, father, and businessman, and, most important, a disciple of Christ. After my dad’s repentance, he became the biggest influence in my life because of his love for his Creator, hunting and fishing, and nurturing God’s greatest creation. Once my dad turned from his wicked ways and submitted to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, he became a role model for people struggling to overcome their addictions and problems. It wasn’t so much that he focused on their problems but that he offered them a solution. His life wasn’t easy when he was drinking, partying, and committing other sins, and it certainly was difficult for the people who loved him most. But once my dad turned his life around, he made a profound impact on thousands of people by sharing God’s story of healing and hope. He became a man of faith, perseverance, and courage. But the decade or so before his baptism wasn’t easy for my mom or me and my brothers.
My recollections of my childhood are kind of hazy, which might be a good thing, because I don’t have many fond memories of growing up until my father was born again; his becoming a new man is the most drastic change in a person I have ever seen. I remember my family owning a bar in Junction City, Arkansas, for a couple of years, and it seemed like every night ended with men rolling around on the ground and fighting, followed by flashing lights from police cars in the parking lot.
As I reflect back on my dad’s pre-Christ life, I realize that by embracing the Son of God, who died on a cross for his mistakes, my dad was given a second chance and a life of continual forgiveness. I came to realize that same cross is where I would find forgiveness. My life has never included drugs or drunkenness, mainly because I saw what they did to my dad and our family. But as my dad once said, “You’re either a rank heathen like I was or just a heathen.” I have made my share of mistakes and realize that a life without forgiveness is a life filled with guilt, bitterness, and misery no matter how many sins you’ve committed or which ones they are. Once I became a Christian, I viewed being part of the forgiven as synonymous with being a forgiver. I learned to forgive my dad for his mistakes. It was a huge step for me, but it’s impossible to find harmony in relationships when there is no forgiveness. After all, everyone make mistakes and no one is perfect.
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