By: Dudley Rutherford
My father, H. Dean Rutherford, was my hero, my best friend, and a mighty soul winner. He passed away last year at eighty-seven years of age. There were many times throughout my life when my father encouraged me to run the race, as the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13–14: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ.” With loving hands and wise words, my dad never failed to spur me on to persevere in life and ministry. Perhaps most importantly, I had the benefit of watching his example of faithfully pressing on toward the goal of Christ Jesus.
My dad had a special ability to talk to anyone about Jesus and the church. The way he spoke moved people’s hearts. Even as Parkinson’s and cancer ravaged his body, he never went a single day without inviting people to church. He instilled in me a passion to reach lost people and to make every moment of life count. I’m eternally grateful to him for pointing me to Jesus and showing me the greatest job in the world, that of being a pastor. My dad was and always will be the greatest preacher I have ever been blessed to hear. I know that when he graduated from this life to the next, it was the greatest day of his life, and I can’t wait for the day when we will lock our arms around each other again. We will speak of our love, and we will worship Jesus side by side for all eternity.
For many years now, I have had in my office a large framed photo of my dad preaching, with a quote from him that reads, “You cannot exhaust Jesus. Everything else may end up on the scrapheap of history. Cast a billion burdens at his feet, and there is room for more. Let a trillion souls step forward today and fall at his feet; there are still forgiveness, salvation, and pardon for a trillion more.” Of all my father’s writings and poetry, this one is perhaps my favorite, and I will look upon these words with fondness because it reminds me that Jesus—our glorious, generous Savior—is the one thing.
No matter what you might face in this life, may you press on and finish the race with a worshipful heart, continual commitment, and faithful focus like my dad and like so many others who have run this race before you. I pray you will always know that, as God’s child, you are part of a holy and heavenly family, and I pray that you will make serving and honoring the Lord your one thing, the highest aim of your life.
Excerpt from Pastor Dudley Rutherford’s new book, One Thing: Rediscover a Simple Faith in Our Complicated World, available now on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Pastor Dudley Rutherford is the senior pastor of Shepherd Church, which has three campuses in the Greater Los Angeles area. You can watch services online or connect with Dudley at www.LiftUpJesus.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.