My father died of cancer 9 years ago.
I only think about this occasionally and in passing most days of the year. May is different. Like the fallen soldiers we remember every year, it is my time to slow down and think about the man who shaped my life, the man I lost at 18. I’ve tried to do something like this every year, though the years have been marked by inconsistency.
I hope to put out more content this year than ever before. These are my 3 reasons for writing:
1) To honor my father.
2) To tell my family.
3) To bless others.
To honor my father
Mark Sakanashi was not perfect, but he was the closest thing to Jesus Christ I ever experienced. By the end of his life he would be quick to say that anything worthy of praise in his life was a result of the mercy and grace of God alone. “By grace alone” was his line, and he truly believed it. He was my father, my hero, and I want to honor the life he lived as a servant of Jesus Christ, his King and his God.
Sons do not appear out of thin air. They come from fathers. Who I am is a result of my identity in Jesus Christ, but it is also a result of my identity as a son of Mark. Writing is my way of saying “thank you” to the man who fought each day to redeem the Sakanashi name that was handed down to him, a mission he ultimately accomplished with his death. Whatever is praiseworthy in my life, I want it to point back to Jesus Christ, but I also want people to know that I had a father who shaped my character and led me to God.
To tell my family
I mean my wife, my children, and my grandchildren. My brothers and sisters have pieces of my dad, and they have their own stories to tell. I want to tell my own family because none of them will get a chance to know my dad, and I don’t want them to be completely deprived of his memory and influence.
Time is a cruel thief of memory. It’s hard to believe how few memories I have from 18 years, but the ones that are still in my mind, I want to write down. There are a lot of conversations I want to have with my wife and kids about my dad, but I also want to give them something in the form of a book that will help them know dad.
To bless others
One of the last things my father ever told me was that good men will give parts of themselves for others. Then he told me that a godly man lives to give his entire life away. He told me it is truly better to give than it is to receive, and to learn what this meant and live by it.
I think it is fitting that his life should be used to bless others. It’s what he would have wanted. Personally, I am willing to share parts of my experience with my dad that others may not be comfortable sharing. The memories are mine to keep, but I am choosing to free them to the public in the hope that they would bless others.
From the love, lessons, and encouragement of my dad to the fear, despair, and hope of losing him, I hope that our family can be a blessing to the world, especially Japan, the land and people my dad ached for and hoped to serve with the last decades of his life.