Change of Plans
I was in the process of writing a post for today, a post dealing with the U.S national holiday, Labor Day. But then I got a phone call, and plans changed.
Not long ago I received a phone call from my cousin. He told me that my uncle, my father’s brother, had passed away. This was a terrible blow.
So, if you, my readers, wouldn’t mind, I would like to step away from The Recovering Legalist for a little while. I will still work on preparing posts for ProverbialThought.com, however, being that it is a daily devotional.
William (Don) Baker
Most of you may have never met my uncle Don, but you would have liked him. He was a very gentle, Jesus-loving man. But this wasn’t always the case. Just like my dad was before his conversion, my uncle was a tough-as-nails, hard-living, straight-shooting outdoorsman with a proud moonshine-running past. He was a man without fear, considering at one point he kept in his living room nearly 200 deadly snakes (Rattle Snakes, Copperheads, etc.).
My father, Terry Baker, was my uncle’s younger brother. Terry became a believer in the 1960′s, and then accepted the calling to preach. He always prayed for Don and invited him to church, but to my knowledge only went with him one or two times. My dad never gave up on my uncle.
Then, just a few years ago, the man who wouldn’t have anything to do with God or church found himself at death’s door. Beside a hospital bed he gave his heart and life to Jesus, and the change in that old sinner’s life was dramatic.
The Mission Field
My uncle lived on a hill just above the Tennessee River in an area called Suck Creek. Our family had lived there for several generations. And it was there on the river that my uncle spent most of his time fishing and conversing with not only the Lord, but anyone who passed by.
The river was his “mission field.” He told me how that once his health declined to the point he couldn’t get around, about all he could do was ride his 4-wheeler down to the river bank. There he would sit and fish, feed the ducks, and witness miracles.
On more than one occasion, as he told me, he would be sitting there fishing when a total stranger would walk up to him. Many times the people would be feeling hopeless, considering divorce, or even suicide. Without having to go anywhere he would tell these people about how God changed his heart and gave him a love he never knew existed. He would tell them how Jesus loved them and could give them the same kind of peace he experienced. And in one case, even the town drunk came by – and got saved.
Shouting Down the Roof
One thing my uncle Don told me a couple of years ago was this: “The thing I regret most is that I didn’t get saved earlier…I could have heard Terry preach, and we could have shouted the roof down together.“
I sent my uncle cd’s of my preaching and singing. I know that he listened to me when I preached on the radio. But I know that it wasn’t the same. I am not my dad.
Joy Comes in the Morning
But all is not lost. Because of the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ we have Hope.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. … That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Rom 5:1-2, 21 KJV
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1Cr 15:51-57 KJV
I am looking forward to the funeral service this week. I don’t look forward to it because I have lost a loved one, but because of the hope we will all share. It will be a time to be reminded that this life is short and that tomorrow is never guaranteed. But it will also be a reminder that when the dark night is over, along with all the pain, “joy comes in the morning.”