Generally, on Father’s Day we celebrate our fathers, but today I want to provide a Father’s Day Salute to my father and my father-in-law. So, let’s get started.
Dale Barlow Riddle
There are few written records pertaining to his life, but he made a major impact in mine. I probably didn’t communicate that fact very well to him, but I certainly admit it now. Here are a few facts:
- He was born in 1912 (or thereabouts).
- As a teenager he worked for a Goodyear Tire Store.
- He taught himself how to drive (and never had a ticket).
- He got saved as a young man (although I have no written proof of that; however, his lifelong interest in spiritual matters was evident).
- As a young man he became a deacon.
- As an adult he worked as a sales representative for Ford Tractor and was quite successful.
- He backslid and married an unsaved woman (my mother, who may have gotten saved on her deathbed as she received a letter God had put on my heart which included the gospel).
- Although backslidden, he kept us in church until the family left the church.
- When I was yet a child, we left the Methodist Church.
- He was very interested in spiritual matters and loved watching Billy Graham Revival Meetings. A little redheaded boy sat next to him.
- He later worked for Bolens Tractor and then Lawnboy, and was a successful sales representative.
- When I got saved at the age of 30, his continuous interest in the Bible was part of the reason I was already daily reading the Scriptures before I got saved.
- My salvation and life may have been a testimony to him.
- In his last days, he planned on getting back in church. He died of a stroke before he could make good on that plan.
- It is with joy that I contemplate the possibility that when I get to heaven, I may meet my grandmother (who I led to the Lord), my father, my mother, and my Aunt Delores. I may also have other relatives, both living and dead, that I don’t know about. What a glorious day that will be!
As you may have noticed, it was dad’s continuing interest in the things of God that had a great influence on me as a child. I was yet a child when we dropped out of church as a family and didn’t come in contact with the church until I went to Navy Bootcamp. I don’t remember much about any conversations dad had with me at the time, but I know that when I went to bootcamp I had a little Bible in my hands. So, I imagine I got it from my parents.
Though he was out of the church, he continued to influence my life so that when I became an adult I was ‘religious’. God had a date with me that I wasn’t aware of until May 9, 1973, arrived. Looking back, I think my dad’s interest in church had played a major role in my spiritual life. His influence, the influence of my pastor, and my own interest in the Bible brought me to that date. And God pointed me to the Scriptures which said I was dead in my sins and needed a Savior. On that night I knelt by my bedside (at a Best Western motel) and asked Jesus into my heart.
I am so glad, that I had a father who never lost his faith completely. It is true he ran out of time for getting right and departed this world with few if any rewards. But I believe he is in heaven reunited with his Savior! And that is a great comfort!
More about this on the other side of this break.
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Now back to the article.
My dad was not the only man to play a role in my life. My pastor, Dr. Bob Shelton, preached sermons that led to my salvation, but my father-in-law lived the Christian life that influenced me as a young Christian (I was 8 years old in the Lord when I married Teresa). So, I think it is appropriate to talk about him for a few minutes.
Carl Woodrow Wheeler
On September 19, 1981, Carl Wheeler became my father-in-law. Like my father, he got saved as a young man.
But Carl Wheeler continued on and grew in the Lord. By the time I met him he had already suffered his own crises of faith but was now a godly, faithful man. He served God in a verity of ways, including working in children’s church, and becoming a deacon.
When I met him, he was retired and a Snowbird spending half his time in Florida. Eventually he and his wife, Evalyne, moved to Florida full time. But whether living in Michigan or Florida, he remained a godly man who loved the Word of God.
I count myself fortunate to have a godly father-in-law and mother-in-law. In my imagination I like to think that my parents and Teresa’s parents have already met up there in heaven.
So, on this Father’s Day I am thankful that God gave me a father who taught me to believe in God and to read the Bible, and a father-in-law who demonstrated how a Christian ought to live. My birth father may not have been perfect, but he was a hero in my eyes and to this day I remember him fondly. Someday, we will be reunited and I look forward to that day!
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