I try to imagine my life from my dad’s perspective (Part Two):
I gave my life to Jesus Christ as a teenager. That’s a great comfort for me. In the final analysis, it’s all in God’s hands.
I did the best I could. I fought the great fight. I ran the race. It’s not in my hands anymore.
You bring a son up. You try to teach him right and wrong. You give him love and books. And when he grows up, you have to let him go.
Luke was my third. My wife Gwen had breast cancer. She had a mastectomy in 1964. We didn’t expect to have another child. Luke was an accident.
While she was carrying Luke, Gwen became convinced he’d do something special for God.
We’re still waiting!
Luke had a blessed first year of life. We all loved him very much. Then life threw us all a bouncer. My wife was diagnosed with bone cancer.
I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t do my work — run the Religion department at Avondale College and conduct evangelical tours — and look after my sick wife and my children. We didn’t have medical insurance.
We found various people to care for Luke. Some weren’t ideal. None of them could love him like we could. The other kids went to other families.
After a separation of more than 20 years, my brother looked me up. He’s an atheistic communist. He had a hard time with me converting to the Seventh-Day Adventist church.
The church was a great boon to me during Gwen’s illness. They eventually picked up her medical expenses. Then they insisted I get medical insurance to make sure it didn’t happen again.
Hundreds of people prayed for Gwen to get well. It didn’t happen. She just steadily sickened. Before she went, she told me to marry my secretary Gill so that Luke would have someone to look after him.
A few months after Gwen died, I married Gill. Luke clung to her. "I’ve had many mothers," he’d tell her, "but I don’t want anymore."
We all left for England at the end of 1970. I was 40 years old. I wanted to get a second PhD. In those days, English degrees were more respected than American ones. I wanted to study the New Testament’s teachings about the end of time (not to be confused with that "Left Behind" twaddle).
It took me 18-months to get this second Ph.D. and then I took the family around Europe for a three-month holiday.
Luke was a bit of a worry. He had these sunken eyes that haunted me. He was a sensitive child, sickly, lost in his own world. He didn’t play nicely with others.
I came across him once in England throwing manure at these kids and screaming, "I hate you, I hate you."
I worried that he wasn’t a good Christian.
Sister White taught that it was a bad idea to start kids in school too early. From age six to eight, Luke wandered around the bush outside our home at Avondale College. We then entered him into second grade at the local Adventist primary school located at the college.
He was happy to get into school with the rest of kids but he still hadn’t learned to play nicely with others. There was always a lot to worry about with Luke. He was very competitive particularly with his best friend Wayne Cherry. He never learned that our value comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ, not from finishing first in silly games.
I used to hear about Luke swearing and poking girls with sticks and smoking cigarettes and stealing money from us to buy sweets. When we busted him in third grade for telling lies, I knew it was time. Spankings were not sufficient to rein him in. He needed The Word.
I started assigning him 40 pages of dense Christian apologetics to read every day and I made him type a one-page summary. He hated it but he learned to type and he learned all the key arguments for the truth of Christianity.
Did it change his behavior? I think he became more careful — more careful at getting away with stuff!
He was a worry. He loved to play with fire. He played with matches and burned our plastic tablecloth. I gave him a good hiding for that. He could’ve burned down the whole house.
We made him bike home at lunch. All his mates could play. We’d keep him out of trouble biking back and forth.
I used to get complaints that he was disruptive in Sabbath School. He’d come squealing in, racing fast, and then sliding down the floor. It was all a big show to make sure that everyone noticed him.
He didn’t realize that our worth comes from our relationship with the Savior. That Jesus loves us just as we are, but he doesn’t leave us just as we are.
Luke got into reading in a big way at age eight. He’d sit out on the porch hour after hour reading adventure books by Robert Louis Stevenson and G.A. Henty. I’d recommend to him books I loved as a child and he’d devour them.
I warned him that all these hours hunched over books were ruining his posture. I said, "Other people won’t bother to point this out, only those who really know you and care about you, but you need to sit up straight."
It didn’t do much good.
He rarely listened to his dear old dad.
We had some good times together. When I’d take Luke with me on an evangelical swing, we’d always bring the Monopoly game and we’d get in a few contests. He always enjoyed kicking soccer balls around. I did it just for the exercise. In the end, I don’t give a cracker for this fallen world. The only point of sport is to get a bit of exercise so you can more efficiently accomplish God’s will.
Author Milton Hook (left) with Desmond Ford in 2008