Faith of our Fathers

March 1, 2010

A “Passing the Torch” Article


My father, my cousin, me, and my aunt. Easter 1974

I’ll never forget the morning that my father addressed the Heath church of Christ for the last time. It was only a couple of years after doctors told him that he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). His body was now weak and frail and slouched in a wheelchair. His voice was slurred and barely audible. I was around six or seven at the time, but even a child knew that this was a powerful day.

He said something that morning that will stay with me for the rest of my life. “We’re all going to die, but I’m blessed to know that my time is coming soon.”

My father, Paul Nicklaus, was born and raised in Benton, Arkansas. He met my mother at Crowley’s Ridge College. She was a minister’s daughter who had already decided that she was NOT going to marry a preacher. Apparently, it was love at first sight.

Dad preached in the Benton, Illinois area for a few years before we moved to Kentucky. He attended the lectureships at Freed-Hardeman, preached in several gospel meetings, and loved working with the youth. His keen sense of humor and easy going nature made him well liked. Friends say he had a passion, love, and respect for the Word and if he were still living, would be well known in our brotherhood for writing and speaking.

Although, that Sunday morning was the last time he was in a pulpit, it wasn’t his final sermon. He continued to preach by the way he lived the remainder of his life, influencing the other residents at the nursing home, making the nurses laugh, or encouraging those that visited. That was his greatest sermon.

Dad died on a cold, December day in 1980. He was only thirty years old. His love for God and his faith in Christ live on in the lives of his children and grandchildren.

I see him from time to time in the eyes of my children, my brother, and my aunt. He comes to mind through the zeal and humor of friends, who themselves are Gospel preachers. I think of his love for the church every time I pick up a Gospel Advocate or Christian Chronicle. And rarely do I see a sign for a congregation of the Lord’s church and not think of him.

I became a Christian at the age of twelve in that same little church building in western Kentucky and try to drive by every time I’m in that neck of the woods. My father’s faith in the midst of great tragedy showed me that no matter what we’re faced with in this life, God’s comfort, grace, and plan for our future is even greater.

Dad was already in a wheelchair by the time this picture was made in the late 70s. He had to have help getting in the room for the picture.

We all have that special teacher or preacher who has blessed our lives. Share your thoughts or memories in the comments section or write a Pass the Torch article of your own. And never miss an opportunity to let someone know how they have touched your life.

I Thessalonians 4:13-18
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Entry Filed under: ALS,Passing the Torch,the church of Christ. Posted in  ALS ,Passing the Torch ,the church of Christ .



19 Comments Add your own

  •    Terry  |  March 1st, 2010 at 2:30 am     Reply

    Very nice article.

  •    Bobby Ross  |  March 1st, 2010 at 3:14 am     Reply

    So touching. Thank you for sharing these memories of your dad.

  •    Gallagher  |  March 1st, 2010 at 3:38 am     Reply

    WOW! Thanks so much for sharing the story of your father. Thank you!

  •    Beth Baker  |  March 1st, 2010 at 3:44 am     Reply

    Paula,
    I too was baptized in that very same building and remember so fondly so many wonderful Christians there who helped me learn God’s word and encouraged me to live a Christian life. I am blessed as you were with having great parents who instilled at a young age the love for the church. Throughout life’s journey I have been blessed to know some wonderful people who have endured trials, hardship, sickness and death…that have persevered and fought the good fight. I am so happy to be in the Lord’s Church, and will strive to teach my children to love God and the Church above all else.

  •    john dobbs  |  March 1st, 2010 at 4:43 am     Reply

    Paula, I’ve only come to know you and Brian through the blogs in the past few years. But this…really gave me some insight into the beauty and dedication of your family to Christ. Thank you for sharing this family history. It encourages me to see such a rich heritage of faith being passed on through your families. Love to you all.

  •    Jerrie Barber  |  March 1st, 2010 at 1:58 pm     Reply

    A great example of Hebrews 11:4: “he being dead still speaks.” Thank you.

  •    Janice Garrison  |  March 1st, 2010 at 2:00 pm     Reply

    Precious Memories Paula and I know these words of love are written from the depths of your heart. You are blessed to have these wonderful memories of your dad.

    Thank you so much for giving us this look into your life and this tribute to your dad. It sounds like he touched many lives.

  •    Lisa L  |  March 1st, 2010 at 2:51 pm     Reply

    Thank you for sharing this! I thought you would probably write about your father. I wrote about my dad too. I wouldn’t be where I am without his influence.

  •    Scott  |  March 1st, 2010 at 3:19 pm     Reply

    Paula,

    Thanks for sharing this part of your life and the influence your father is to you and your family and now to so may others.

  •    Adam Gonnerman  |  March 1st, 2010 at 4:45 pm     Reply

    Paula,

    You and I have never met but I know your brother. I was surprised by how much he looks like your father. The example of your father challenges me. Thank you for sharing it.

  •    AncientWanderer  |  March 1st, 2010 at 9:27 pm     Reply

    Thank you for telling us about your dad and about this torch bearer.

  •    Paula Harrington  |  March 1st, 2010 at 9:49 pm     Reply

    Thank you for your kind words.

  •    Gretchen  |  March 1st, 2010 at 11:42 pm     Reply

    I remember that sermon. Well, I was 6 so not the actual sermon but I remember your father struggling to get up to the pulpit. And even at that young age I knew what your father was doing that day was something very special. Everytime I pass the building I think of him and that day. Have I ever told you that? Anyhow, I also remember visiting him at the nursing home and how we would run around, as children do, while your mother fed him. Even all these years later I can remember thinking he was facing his challenges with more grace than anyone I had ever seen. Before or since.

  •    Linda Hunter Crosswhite  |  March 2nd, 2010 at 2:33 am     Reply

    Paula, Your dad touched more lives than you will ever realize. Brian and you were so young when he died of but what time you had together he lived his life in a way that his influence still lives with you today.

  •    Wendy  |  March 2nd, 2010 at 12:18 pm     Reply

    That blessed me today, Paula! What a wonderful reunion you will have!

  •    TREY MORGAN  |  March 2nd, 2010 at 11:17 pm     Reply

    I loved this … not many people can say the things you’ve said about their father. He was a good tree and it’s obvious that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with you and your brother.

  •    Lori @ Shine Like Stars  |  March 3rd, 2010 at 4:01 am     Reply

    What a special tribute to your dad. We have a friend who has ALS and is getting worse rapidly. I’m sure your dad was a great inspiration to all who knew him, saw his struggles, and witnessed his faith.

    Thank you for sharing! Lori Waugh

  •    Josh Linton  |  March 3rd, 2010 at 4:11 pm     Reply

    Incredible story. Thanks for blessing us with it.

  •    Katherine  |  March 8th, 2010 at 1:08 pm     Reply

    Wow, Paul what a beautiful article and tribute to your father!! Thanks so much for sharing this with us and for carrying the faith and love he had and sharing it with us!

    He sounds like an amazing person whose legacy continues to live on through all of you. May the torch continue to be passed for generations to come…

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