Tag Archives: death of a loved one

My Last Words?

Worthy Drafts?

This evening I was exploring the “draft” file to see if there was anything I could edit and post. I clicked on a few titles of unfinished works, but more often than not the posts were only titles, nothing else. Then I came upon the following draft written all the way back in March of 2011: “My Last Words.”

It was seven years ago, and I don’t even remember what kind of surgery I was about to have. All I know is that I did not die; I survived. Actually, I don’t even know if I had the surgery. I just can’t remember.

But reading the words of this post disturbed me. It almost sounds like what a suicide letter would sound like! So much regret! So much hopelessness! So much self-pity. So little victory!

Therefore, with even more transparency than I’m used to, I’m going to let you look into my past, into my mind and heart, right before believing the worst would happen. Then, I’m going to do something else…just in case.

My former last words…

I am going to have surgery tomorrow. I don’t know if I will survive. I have been having strong feelings that I won’t. I am scared, but not too much. I just pray that God takes care of my wife, Valerie, and the girls.

I have not lived much of a life. I have not been many places, or seen many things. My education has been limited and of little value. I wish that I could have studied and applied myself more early on, instead of doing fruitless things and chasing fruitless relationships.

I miss my dad, and long to see him again.

My wife could have done much better than me, for I have not provided for her, or my children, the way they deserve. She deserved a man who could take care of her emotionally and monetarily. I have done neither. I have failed her in many ways.

My children have not had the best dad, either. I have not intentionally been abusive, but I have hurt them many times with my words. They didn’t deserve that. I hope they will forgive me.

I hope that my girls will grow up to fear the Lord and live for Him, much like I have tried to do, but have failed. They have a hard life ahead of them, and without faith in God, there will be no hope.

I could say a lot more, but I hope that God will be glorified in my weakness. Maybe something I have said and done in my life will prove to have had some lasting value once I’m gone.  I pray my wife finds peace and is taken care of. I pray my daughters find godly men. – Written 3/3/2011

Like I said, I’m glad I didn’t die in that surgery, and I’m very happy those were NOT my last words! However, should something happen to me before the sun rises, allow me to write what I’d prefer to be my “last words.”

To all concerned…

Valerie, you have been the greatest gift God has given me apart from salvation. Without your love and unending support and faithfulness I would have never become the man I am today. Your joy and faith, despite innumerable ills and disappointments, have filled my life with a beauty that transcends the temporal. Your gentle eyes inspire me. Your laugh energizes me. Your love humbles me. Your very presence comforts me, especially in the night when you’re beside me. Despite what you think about yourself, you are a godly Proverbs 31 woman worthy of praise. You’re the ruby in the setting of my life.

Girls, I’m proud of all of you! Each of you are specially gifted and called by God to glorify Him in unique ways. Don’t compete with each other. Don’t ever be jealous of each other. Always love each other, despite your differences. Put God first in your lives, before relationships, family, career, money, or even yourselves. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – seek God and be wise! Never settle for a man who simply loves you; expect more! Find a man who loves Jesus first, then treasures you. You won’t regret it.

Mom, I love you. Becky, I love you, too. I wish we all could have spent more time together as a family down here. However, one day we will be reunited, along with daddy, and the dissappointments of the past will fade away along with the feelings of being apart.

God has been so good and gracious and merciful to me! If I have any regret, it’s that I haven’t praised Him enough. Hasn’t He been good? Yes, He has! All the time! Keep telling people about Jesus, even without me. Without Jesus what would we have? Without our hope in Christ there’d be no hope of seeing each other again, so thank Him in the congregation of unbelievers and believers alike! Let them know the reason for the hope that is within you.

If these truly end up being my last words, don’t weep for me too long. Rise up, look to the future with expectation and excitement! Joy comes in the morning!

Make my funeral one to remember. Have church! Worship! Sing! Shout! Get a man of God who can preach the infallible Word of God and let him loose! If the gospel isn’t preached with joy, passion, praise, and power at my funeral I’ll find out about it and personally ask God to disable evey game app on all your phones! If the Word isn’t preached over my casket you’ll never play word games again 😉

Finally, don’t forget to read your Bible, pray, move on with your life, know God still has a purpose for you, and become a better shot!

I hope these aren’t my last words, but if they are, I love you! See you in a little while!

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness… All other ground is sinking sand.”

 

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Filed under Life/Death, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, worship

When Heaven Becomes Real

My city has been in the news a lot because of the deaths of five brave servicemen. The last of the funerals was held yesterday.

I have been to a whole lot of funerals as a minister. Even when I was young I had to go to a lot of funerals because my dad was a preacher – and guess who performed all the funerals for family and friends? It seemed like every other week someone would call on my father to preach someone’s funeral, and most were people I did not know.

Unbelievably, however, there are a lot of people in this world (especially America) who have never had to deal with the loss of someone really close, like a parent, sibling, or spouse, not even a grandparent. There are a lot of adults who have never even been to a funeral. For them, as it was for me, heaven is just a place they may believe in, but it’s not really thought of much in terms of an actual destination – like it’s only a metaphor.

All that changes in an instant when a believing loved one dies.

One evening in 1991, shortly before me father died, I went to hear and evangelist speak at my home church. He preached on heaven that night, and one thing he said has stuck with me for the past 24 years. He said, “Heaven will never be as real to you until there’s someone there you want to go see.

Four days later I knew what he meant.

For me, heaven is a real place, a place where I long to go. Over the last few years more and more people have gone on ahead of me and are waiting.

Right now there is a silhouette of golden light tracing the edges of the dark mountain before me. What is on the other side I can barely imagine – I’ve only heard stories. But one day, maybe not long from now, I will receive the call to cross over. There my faith will be made sight.

It’s just a matter of time before I learn what “real” is all about.

 

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Filed under Life/Death

He Forgave. So Can We.

1N3

Not long ago I had the chance to go to an outdoor music festival in Chattanooga. It was there at JFest that I met an incredible couple, Tiki and Tom Finlayson, with a powerful story to tell.

You see…

van writingOn July 31, 2011, a young man was hit head on by a drunk driver. On July 1 Kevin “Sunshine” Yates died from the injuries he received in the crash. The tragic loss of a son could have driven his parents crazy, but instead of living with hate and bitterness, they decided to do something radical – the decided to forgive.

I would encourage you to go check out the website for 1N3, the ministry that Kevin’s mother and brother (Derek Yates) founded to increase awareness of the tragedy of drunk driving. There you can read the whole story of what happened, about Kevin, and about the lives that have been saved through organ donation. But for now, I would just like to share with you what Tom, Kevin’s dad, told me as we stood looking at the van Kevin was driving.

“Who Am I…?”

I know people who have a hard time forgiving others for wrongs done. Others I know have a hard time getting past the death of a loved one; always grieving, always mourning the loss. The Yates and Finlaysons are not that way. All it takes is one look at the smiles on their faces to see that hope and love have drowned hate and bitterness.

Tiki and Me

Tiki Finlayson and me. They carry the van around to show what happens when people drive intoxicated. The picture is of Kevin Yates, her son.

As we stood there talking, Tom Finlayson told me how that they had truly forgiven the lady that had hit Kevin. As a matter of fact, they have reached out to help her. Believe it or not, she is even scheduled to help in their ministry upon her release from prison.

Tom talking

Tom Finlayson telling the story.

Tom told me, “You know, we’re all murderers…we are all responsible for the death of God’s Son, Jesus…we killed Him…and if God can forgive me for killing his Son, then who am I not to forgive her?”

What more is there to say? 

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32

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Filed under Alcohol, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, Relationships and Family