For the last few weeks, life has given me the opportunity to spend some quiet time alone. That is not a bad thing. It gives a person a chance to reflect on their life. Thinking about the things we are doing right. But more importantly, the things we need to improve on. No matter how old we get, we should never stop learning. In my lifetime, I have had very few conversations or encounters when I did not learn something.
This week I received a call from my good friend Brian Groves. He asked to have dinner and talk. Spending time with Brian is always pleasant. For as long as we have known each other, which has been his entire life, he has been one of the wisest and kindest souls I have ever known. When you have a friend like Brian, and they give you an invite, you accept it whether you like getting out or not. Some friendships are to be treasured. This is one of them for me.
The conversation began with small talk. Brian then moved the conversation to more pressing topics. He asked about my health due to recent events. I was fortunate to tell him the new meds are working. He then voiced his concerns over time spent alone. I will always listen to Brian’s opinion. He is a Godly man who cares about his friends. But I felt compelled to share something with him I have never shared with anyone to date.
Growing up, I thought my Daddy was one of the toughest guys around. He never told me anything to make me think it. He just was. His parenting technique will not be found in any “How To” books. But he did the best he could. As an adult, I understand this more. And though he never told me much about his youth, others have. Joe Dowda told me he played football with him. Joe said he was fast and tough. He told me Daddy probably weighed about 100 pounds then. But he said when Daddy would hit you, you would get hit with all 100 pounds. He did not hold back. Joe said Daddy’s football career ended with a broken leg early on. I am his son and had no idea.
Daddy died in 2014. Though my family will always miss him, we are no longer in mourning. He had a good life and many friends. His suffering ended after five years in the nursing home. The frustration he must have felt saddens me. He knew what he wanted to say, but he could not say it. The man who spent everyday living life to the fullest, was confined for the last years of his life. Some people believe we pay for our sins while here on earth. Maybe we do. If true, I believe his balance was paid in full.
In these columns, I often mention God. Though I do not live a religious life, He is the only thing in my life I know is real. Being saved does not make us perfect. It just makes us saved. We still sin daily. As hard as we try, we just cannot live good enough to get into heaven. This fact is the very purpose of the Plan of Salvation. Like many of you, I occasionally read my Bible. Rev. Monroe Gunter once told me, “Read a little. Pray a lot.” Monroe is one of the wisest men I know in the Word. His spiritual advice has always been important to me.
When Daddy died, I was with him. I spoke and he listened. He opened his eyes and looked at me. He nodded in agreement to what I was saying. He had no fear. I found his bravery remarkable. For the past six years I have attributed his lack of fear to his toughness. While reading the Bible during my quiet time, I read about God taking Moses to the mountain top to show him the Promised Land. Sometimes in the quietness, when we are still, we can hear God speak to us. As I closed my Bible, I could feel Him speaking to my heart. And this is what I heard. Daddy was not being tough as he calmly crossed over. What I was seeing was the manifestation of his salvation. He could see the other side as I spoke to him. Daddy knew where he was going, and he was ready. For six years, I had it all wrong. If that tells you anything, it should tell you I am not one to take spiritual advice from.
We as Christians often judge others not by their best moments, but by their worst. Many seemingly live Christian lives though their hearts lack love and grace. But when it comes down to the moment of our passing, there is no hypocrisy. It is what it is. For eternity.