Dose of Truth

Happy Father’s Day

Picture of Tim Richards

Tim Richards

June 12, 2024

In 1995, 35-year-old Wendy Lawrence flew her first Space Shuttle mission and later flew three more times. She had dreamed of being an astronaut since the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, but at the time women could not even apply for the program. Nevertheless, Wendy says her father, U.S. Navy Vice Adm. William Lawrence, gets credit for encouraging her to aim high.

In a Guidepost Magazine article, she admitted her relationship with her father was not always smooth, despite that, her father’s unwavering commitment to Jesus, duty, and country shaped her career choices, a testament to his profound influence on her.

He was a Navy pilot who was captured in 1967 and endured six years in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. His resilience and strength were evident in his role in developing the code which allowed prisoners to communicate by tapping on walls and ceilings. He maintained his sanity through prayer, poetry and focusing on his life’s most meaningful moments, a testament to his unwavering spirit.

Wendy’s father was released in 1973 and returned to the U.S. as a hero. She described their relationship writing, “He was the father I never really knew…” Her mother was so certain her husband was dead that she had remarried years earlier.

Wendy eventually went to live with her father, deepening their bond. He taught her to be practical, disciplined, and to focus on problem-solving. He eventually married Diane Rauch, a physical therapist who worked with returning soldiers. Wendy remained close to her birth mother, but Diane became a second mother.

When Wendy asked her dad about his time in captivity as a prisoner of war, he refused to discuss it. Instead, he shared positive stories about how God had helped him, and his part in developing the “tap code” which helped POWs survive. “He showed me the knuckle on his right hand, still swollen from years of tapping. He could tap out whole chapters of the Bible.”

When the Naval Academy began admitting women, Wendy wanted to apply, but her father did not encourage her, fearing the historically male institution would not treat her fairly and would not help her reach the goal of becoming an astronaut. Ironically, her dad became the school’s superintendent a year after she enrolled.

Wendy later reflected on her father, saying, “When Dad was shot down, I feared a father I barely knew was gone forever. His return to my life was a gift from God, a gift that shaped my life…”

Few of our fathers are as well-known as William Lawrence, but Solomon teaches us, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NLT) If your father has loved you and taught you valuable life lessons, tell him how much he is loved this Father’s Day. I will do that this Sunday, and if your father is still living, I hope you will, too. Happy Father’s Day, dads!

Tim Richards

has been a pastor for 37 years, serving five churches, including his current church, The Refuge in St. Louis, which he founded. He and the congregation minister to those who are hurting and do their part to expand God’s kingdom. Tim and his wife Kelly have five children. “A Dose of Truth” which he has written for more than 25 years appears in 13 newspapers. His book, “Thriving in the Storm: Discovering God’s Peace and Perspective in Turbulent Times,” is available from Amazon. Feel free to contact him at Photography is another of his skills. Pastor Tim’s photos may be viewed at