L.D. “Babby” Hand, Jr., certainly the greatest father in the world, went to be with the Lord September 27, 2009. I can’t begin to describe the deep levels of impact Dad has had in my life and walk with the Lord. He was a quiet man. His words were few but if you caught him at the right time the communication you received was priceless! He had a special way to assess a situation with wisdom. When he told you what he thought, it was quality, sage advice – never overexaggerated opinion. Yet, due to his quiet ways, he often could catch you off guard with his witty sense of humor. His laugh and his smile are engraved in my memory. Hopefully this post will capture a scant portion of some moments of his dry wit – read on below.
The funeral was extremely God honoring and humbling. Dad never liked any extra attention, but it was a very accurate celebration of his life. He met Jesus in a personal way about 20 years or so ago. Basically we’ve been celebrating with him ever since then here on earth, now we celebrate him being fully in God’s presence. My father had always been a church attender and perhaps had a meaningful salvation experience early on in life. But about 20 years ago – roughly the same time my life changed as a student in college – I began to notice many distinct changes in my Dad’s life. God’s powerful love seemed to flow through him. And he began to serve the Lord – in many ways totally behind the scenes. He volunteered at the state prison nearby – working with Prison Fellowship Ministries to coordinate Bible Studies. For many years he coordinated the Project Angel Tree program for our county – providing Christmas presents for the children of prison inmates who would not get to spend Christmas with their fathers.
My brother Hollis spoke at the service – following up a great message from two different pastors – and really put an incredible cap on the whole service. It was a wonderful tribute – just perfect for illustrating how Dad had a strong faithfulness to us that we never doubted.
For the full text of Hollis’ tribute, click here to download the text file. But here are a few choice excerpts. My slight edits are in [brackets]:
“[Dad] always persevered through adversity through faith and hard work. He was very fortunate to not struggle with materialism as so many men do. He did not care at all if our house was relatively older and smaller than most of our neighbors. . . . He had no problem at all with driving older, rusted cars rather than buy one he couldn’t afford. I remember being very upset with him when I was about 14 or 15 years old and we had only one car in our family, an old Chevrolet Nova – [no air conditioning] – with almost 200,000 miles on it. [But now] how proud I am now of how disciplined he was with our family finances!”
” Dad’s own legacy is that he loved the Lord with all his heart, and to his family he showed unconditional love and commitment that honored God. His life and ministry to others are evidence of Christ’s overflowing love that lived in his heart. As it is written in God’s word:
Love is patient, love is kind it does not envy, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13,1-8, NIV
Anyone who knew my Dad would agree that you could easily substitute his name in place of the word “love” in this passage. Dad showed his love for David and me in the most excellent of ways: he was always telling us how proud he was of us, and he always wanted to spend time with us. David and I enjoyed spending time in his office with him when he was president of the Hand Trading Company. We went with him to the Albany airport when we were young to watch the airplanes land and take off, and Dad renewed his pilot’s license so he could take the whole family on an airplane ride in order to celebrate David’s 6th birthday. We went to see air shows to see air force jets and other military aircraft perform. We would build model airplanes and rockets together, and then go to my granddaddy’s farm to shoot the rockets into the air in a field and watch them parachute down. Some of those rockets are still on the mantle of the fireplace in the den of mom’s house, as a reminder of his legacy of love for his sons.”