To honor my dad, John Stancil, for Father’s Day, I want to tell you a little story about the dark side of the moon. The dark side or “far side” of the moon is literally the part of the moon that always faces away from the Earth. It’s the place where astronauts go radio silent, where their technology fails them, and because of their location on the far side -for a time- they can no longer reach Mission Control.
During my high school years, and when I came home from college, my dad and I used to rise early in the mornings to go running together. We used to joke that we had a “dog ministry” because often we would have a small trail of various mutts lagging along behind us as we finished up our 3-mile loop. We always finished up the same way. We ran until we reached the beginning of our road - Frontier Road - and then we walked to the end of the road for our “cool down.” - which most of the time was already quite cool on those pre-dawn Georgia mornings. Our house was the last one on Frontier Road, at the end of the cul-de-sac. When we reached the end of the road, just like clockwork, we would lie down on the cold concrete and stare up at the moon and sky full of stars. The payoff for me for the physical torture of running was always this time -when we would then pray together. We prayed out loud, eyes wide open, staring at God’s majestic landscape above us. We prayed for each other. We prayed for the day that lay just ahead of us. We prayed for sick people. We prayed for the lost. We prayed with grateful, thankful, and sometimes heavy hearts to our Father above -always gazing up at the moon as we prayed.
As special as it had always been to start my days like this with dad, these particular days it felt like pure treasure. There was something unsaid between us that summer, but we both knew the truth - that these precious moments together were few, and we were holding onto them for dear life. We knew with certainty that my formerly predictable life was about to drastically change, as I was about to embark off to missionary training school, and I knew that God had a calling on my life that would take me to God only knew where in the world, and for God only knew how long.
One morning as we neared the end of that special summer, I couldn’t hold it in any longer, and I asked dad, “How in the world am I gonna start my mornings without you?” With quiet wisdom and compassion, as always, he said, “You’re not. You are going to look up at that big yellow moon and pray, and you’re gonna know that your dad is looking at the dark side of that same moon, praying too. It will be like our relay station. Whether we have access to real communication or not”. (And turns out it was not, as my first missions assignment would end up being the rural highlands of Papua New Guinea which was pretty much a “radio-silent” zone). “Jodi” dad said, “We’ll always have the moon.”
And we have. 21 years later. 28 countries later. A husband and daughter of my own later, and my dad and I still pray, looking up at that same awesome yellow beacon in the sky. He is 62 now, still more fit than most of the “twenty-somethings” he works with. He ran a half-marathon just a few years ago, and he’s still praying faithfully to his Maker early every morning.
I know that one day, inevitably, dad will make his way across that thin veil into eternity and from his vantage point then, it will be me who is on the “dark” side of the moon. But we will still have our yellow relay station in the sky- it’s just that then- I will still be praying to my heavenly Father, and my dad will be standing right next to His.
For you, dad- the kindest, meekest, most compassionate and generous dad I know.
I am SO blessed that YOU are my dad! Happy Father’s Day!
with all my love,