My dad died unexpectedly last year. The last time I saw my dad alive, he was helping me get my tired grumpy kids into the van after the Christmas Eve Candlelight service at church. We got them all strapped in and shut the door on the crying and complaining. I said a weary thanks and went to get into the driver’s seat, but he stopped me and gave me a big dad-hug. I told him Merry Christmas, and that I’d see him in a few days. He and Mom always spent Christmas day just the two of them, unless they were travelling with family. By the end of Christmas day, he was gone.

My whole family came into town to help with funeral arrangements. We laughed, we cried, we remembered dad. The memorial service came and went. The music died down, the whiskey ran dry, and everyone went home. After the initial grief subsided, Mom and I began to sort out what was left behind.

Some things were easy, like clothes and shoes going to my oldest brother, who wears the same size. Another brother who is a guitar man, like Dad, got the two guitars that meant the most to Dad. Other things were intangible, but left behind nonetheless. Like the work my Dad did with my uncle, who has since decided to carry on with it. Or the years of mentorship in business and entrepreneurship that Dad gave to my third brother. Now he is passing that same mentorship on to his sons.

Archie even got a couple of Dad’s old electric guitars that he used to tinker around with now and then. One of them turned out to be from the golden era of Fender, so Archie’s pretty jazzed. I got a few books, but I couldn’t help feeling a little left out.

Other than Dad being Dad, and sharing a deep love of singing, I didn’t have a strong and obvious connection to my Dad, or his stuff. I’m not a business buff, or a guitar person. We didn’t talk every day, like my brother and my uncle. What did I have to remember him by?

I spent a week or so praying about it. One morning, in the quiet of prayer time, the Lord brought to my mind memories of praying with my dad. He was more than business and music. He was a son of God who dedicated his life to prayer and teaching prayer. He taught me to pray and to make prayer a lifestyle. One that I still practice today.

Maybe I don’t have the things my family and others have, but my dad still left me something precious. He gave me something close to his heart, the thing that undergirded everything else he did: a close relationship with Jesus built through prayer in the thick and thin of it.

My Dad taught me everything he knew about prayer through example, doing it together, doing it with others, talking about it, and reading about it in his book (Stark Raving Obedience by Ted and Isaiah Kallman). He taught me about spiritual authority, spiritual warfare, prayer for healing, prayer for deliverance, intercession, fasting, listening prayer, praying the scripture, and prayers of thanksgiving. He taught me to take everything to Jesus, everything.

My dad was like the men from the parables who found the pearl of great value and the treasure in the field. Once they found it, they traded everything else to obtain it. Dad found the pearl too, and he made sure I had it before he left this earth, and that is my inheritance.

-Etta Woods